Saturday, September 11, 2021

Spelling Bone Broth

Be one with your ingredients (feel their essence, thank them for their sacrifice).
Observation isn’t enough (taste each color, touch all scents, talk to your broth).
No (healthy) relationship is unilateral (mind your food and it’ll feed your flesh).
Edible” is as crucial as “Beneficial” (when choosing how to spice things up).

Brewing is a ritual of trust and of knowing (understand what you’re cooking).
Roasted bones and veggies add extra oomph to broth (in case you’re wondering).
Other individuals will always have other opinions (listen to what works for you).
Try different things (this is good advice for bone broth and for living).
Herbs add the magic touch (when spelling bone broth).

- for Poets and Storytellers United--Writers’ Pantry # 86: Words Never Die. If you are not interested in my Pseudo-Intermittent Fasting Challenge, feel free to skip the rest.

31 Weeks of Pseudo-Intermittent Fasting: The Planning Stage
Wed, Sep 1st – Tue, Apr 5th
(so I’ve already started

Week 1: Do Research, Come Up with a (realistic) Goal/Plan, Collect Battle Gear – try to figure out what you want out of this challenge. How many pounds do you wish to lose? How often will you exercise? Talk to your doctor. Get a journal, and search for other tools that might help (i.e.,fitness and health calculators, exercise gear, calories info…).  

Weeks 2-5: Pay Close Attention to What You Eat (and keep a record) you don’t need to become the strictest of calorie counters, but you should have an idea of how much you eat, when you eat it, and how the food makes you feel. The best way to do this is to keep a journal. Any notebook will do. Or, you can purchase a fancy food journal.

Weeks 6-8: Exclude Any Food that Has Caused You Discomfort (record this too)this is one of the reasons why keeping a journal is so important. In order to put aside foods that are killing your gut, you must know what said foods actually are.

Weeks 9-11: Try Reintegrating Excluded Food You Don’t Wish to Give Up Completely if some of the foods that make you sick (bloated, nauseated, sluggish, or worse…) happen to be foods you really love, this is the time to try to reintroduce them into your diet. This should be done slowly, starting with tiny portions, and one food at the time.

 Week 12: Review Weeks 1-11, Create a Healthy (and realistic!) Weight Loss Plan – so, now that you know your food and your body a bit better, craft a detailed plan to lose the extra weight. I wouldn’t try to lose more than 1 pound per week (but that’s just me).    

Weeks 13-31: Follow Your Weight Loss Plan until the Desired Weight (or significant body comfort) Is Achieved, then Create a Weight Maintenance Plan – I wish to lose 19 pounds, so I’m giving myself about 18 weeks. However (and I’m sure you already noticed this), if you’ve been watching your food closely and exercising from the beginning of the challenge, it’s very likely that you’ve already lost some weight. After you reach a point of comfort, adjust your nutrition and fitness plan to maintain said comfort.

* although I am sharing this with everyone, the “you” in this post is mostly me. Feel free to ignore parts or all of it. Add to the number of weeks or reduce the number of weeks. This is what I’m choosing to do. You should choose what works for you.

* here is my Bone Broth Recipe, for those of you who asked.

* best of luck. I will (most likely) share weekly updates on Instagram, and write a full post here at the end of each stage. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Shared Moments

not-quite Journaling, 19

the poetry:

Comfort is playing hooky (again): my left arm is swollen, my right shoulder blade is throbbing, too many nerves in my back are pinching, and the constellation of itchy blotches that is my skin suggests my immune system is finding foes where there are none and insisting on fighting them all.

Nature is feeling stormy (again): my car drowned, fluid filth pressured my garage door until it popped, and the whole place smells like some swamp creature’s soiled socks.

Joy is a tiny seed: it can be planted in soul and soil, it grows in my lover’s arms, it spreads through shared moments and random laughter and caring hearts (like yours).

the delight hearts feel
when love smiles

and the inspiration:

8/15/2021: Yesterday was my Piano Man’s 52nd birthday. We (and more importantly he, being the birthday boy and all) had a perfect day. Today, when I was going through my phone in search of pictures of his birthday menu (Mexican omelet and Turkish coffee for breakfast, baby back ribs and tostones for dinner), I realized that I hadn’t taken any pictures of the food. But I did remember to capture his first-day-as-a-52-year-old smile (right after he told me how much he enjoyed his birthday fun). Like I said, we had a perfect day.

: I grew four sunflower plants this year. They came in the same bag and from the same grower. All the blooms look slightly different (and totally stunning).

9/2/2021: Our garage flooded. Our car drowned. But we’re well. And the sun is shining bright. So, life is good.

9/7/2021: We went on a lovely walk… We saw wild life doing necessarily wild things. And all that talk about me ogling my Piano Man’s rear is pure calumny *cough* πŸ‘€ 

-  for Poets and Storytellers United--Weekly Scribblings #86: Mining the Journals,
where we are asked to “create a poem or story from a journal entry (or several).”

Sunday, September 5, 2021

31 Weeks of Pseudo-Intermittent Fasting; or, Bring on the Bone Broth

When I was young and strong and my gut was not a painful mess, I used to fast every year around my birthday. I would give myself 13 days to go from regular food, to no meat, to only veggies, to soups, to clear liquids, to a day of fasting. Then came Crohn’s and a weird gut bacterium and my approach to eating was never the same again. I can no longer fast. And I really miss the ritual (and the way my body and mind feel after fasting).

So, I’ve come up with an alternative: instead of my old 13 days to fasting, I am going to try 31 weeks of pseudo-intermittent fasting. I am not interested in real intermittent fasting, which involves way too much not eating for my taste. Still, I like the heart of the method (you can read about it here, or here if you aren’t a woman over 40). In intermittent fasting, a person eats only during a particular time of day or days of the week. Since I can’t do that, I shall fill my ‘no eating’ time with bone broth (which explains the “pseudo” in my title). My recent eating pattern included three meals, with snacks in between. In the following 31 weeks (Aug 31st to Apr 5th), things are going to look something like this:

* M, T, W, T, F, S: my usual breakfast and lunch; bone broth (and a treat) for dinner.
* Sundays: my usual breakfast; bone broth for lunch and dinner (yes, I still get my treat).
I shall consume about 1,500 calories a day, which according to my nutritionist (and this calorie calculator) should help me lose about 1 pound a week (safely).

Why might this work for me? Well, because for many people, intermittent fasting is a pathway to ketosis (where the body is supposed to burn fat, for energy, instead of sugar); for me, pseudo-intermittent fasting is a way to reduce my caloric intake while delighting in all the delicious benefits of bone broth (and a treat). 😁

sip, sip… yum!

the wee notes

- last week, in “Love Your Flesh”, I told you that the challenge was going to be called 13 Weeks of Pseudo-Intermittent Fasting; or, Bring on the Bone Broth”. But since a few people (who wish to this together) need/want to lose 30 pounds or more, I think 31 weeks makes more sense (and it’s a lot safer). So, next Saturday, I will share specific details of my “31 Weeks of Pseudo-Intermittent Fasting; or, Bring on the Bone Broth nutrition and fitness plan.

- for Poets and Storytellers United--Writers’ Pantry #86: Pet Training.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Love Your Flesh

this American Sentence was inspired by the outraged reaction of someone (in the 1st of the following paragraphs), after I said that losing 35 lbs. (safely) would be difficult and it would take months

Before Crohn’s disease began controlling my diet, I used to host a yearly nutrition and exercise challenge. I stopped when what I ate (and how I ate it) became too specific to me to work well for another—not without serious tweaking. Then, last week, a friend sent me this: “I’m freaking out. The doctor says I have colitis, food I’ve always eaten makes me sick now, and I can’t fit in my fat pants. Help!”

My friend, Mr. Drama Queen, has a long history of not sticking to anything involving him having to give up something he likes. If you’ve been reading me for a while, you might remember him as the guy who asked me to give up coffee for a year in order to keep him company while he gave up smoking. I went a whole year without my magic brew, just to find out that he kept puffing when I wasn’t looking. 

I was tempted to remind him about his quit smoking fiasco. But just hours after I got his message, my Boy called me to say, “I am fat.” My sweet Boy sounded so dejected (and dumbfounded, by the fact that too much eating and too little exercising was affecting his weight) that I burst into laughter. I know… I am a terrible woman. Then, the next day, my big Brother messaged me to say that his blood pressure was too high and his belly too big and he really needed to lose weight.

Since my Crohn’s is currently stable, and 3 people in my life wish to improve their eating and exercise habits, and since I could lose a pound or 19, I thought it was time for another food and fitness challenge. I’m calling it 13 31 Weeks of Pseudo-Intermittent Fasting; or, Bring on the Bone Broth”. And I’ll tell you all about it in future posts. πŸ˜‰

photo by Nick Fewings, on Unsplash

- for Poets and Storytellers United--Weekly Scribblings #85: “Take care of your body”.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

First Storms and Then Rainbows

This wasn’t the first time he had stormed away fuming, after she refused to cuddle the weakling beast that was his ego whenever she disagreed with him. But as she watched him walk towards his car, carrying the last of his things out of the old cottage that used to be their home, she knew that it would be the last time. She followed him outside barefoot, her soles welcoming the soothing touch of recently rained on soil.

Turning around to look at her, he said, “Professor Bain might not share your ‘cripples, fags and chicks are so very oppressed’ opinions, but the man is beyond brilliant where it counts. And he would have seen my potential, if your mouth hadn’t shat on every chance he ever gave me.”

“I suppose prejudice, hatred and brainlessness can look like brilliance when it fits your views,” she said, wondering if she would ever be able to explain to her brain why she had shared her time and her body with a bigoted stranger for three years.

He got in his car. But before driving away, his gaze sizzled in her direction. “You can’t open your mouth without letting the whole world hear just how naΓ―ve you truly are. What you call ‘prejudice’, the rest of the us know as reality. You better get with the program, my dear, or no one who matters will ever take you seriously.”

As his car disappeared around a corner, disenchantment and rage blurred her vision before spilling down her cheeks. She looked down, blinked hard, and felt a few tears fall on her feet. She took a deep breath and wiped her face with the back of her hand. When more tears came, she let them rain, thinking, First storms and then rainbows.

photo by Harry Quan, on Unsplash

- the first draft of this story, which I shared in 2014, was written in the first person point of view. The original story had three characters, and they all had names. I feel rewriting her on her own, to confront him, makes her (and the story) a tad stronger. The same feels true (to me *cough*) about the anonymity; omitting the characters’ names leaves more focus for the plot, methinks.

- for Poets and Storytellers United--Weekly Scribblings #84: The Last Time and Writers’ Pantry #85: Things to remember if you’re not rich and famous yet.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Kabocha Squash Soup with Pecans

When the odd summer breeze kisses
my skin with susurrations of chill,
I slow cook the sun (for warmth).

I cube kabocha squash
and boil it in bone broth

(for 13 minutes).

While the broth does its thing,
I slow roast some
pestled and mortared pecans.

I blend the softened sun,
pour the liquid gold
into a bowl,

and sprinkle the yum
with still hot toasty nuttiness
(for crunch).


photo by henry perks, on Unsplash

 - for Poets and Storytellers United--Weekly Scribblings #83: Pay Attention, where we’re asked “to choose one object in nature, examine it closely, letting it inspire in [us] a sense of wonder”. I chose the kabocha squash in my fridge and wandered into soup. Also linked to the Writers’ Pantry #84: Let’s Read Up a Storm.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Not Victoria

Her knife was deep in his belly. His eyes were wide. She pressed her body closer to his, twisted the blade, and his dying breath warmed her face.

She pulled out the blade and stepped back, but the body just slumped against The Tree. The others had been swallowed by the trunk as soon as she spilled their lives. “Why are you still here?” she said to the corpse.

You must open him for me, Victoria, a gleeful voice whispered into her mind.

She stared at the bloodied blade in her hand, and said, “I just did that.” She knew that letting her temper taint her tone was a mistake, but she couldn’t stop it. “What else do you want from me?”

I want his blood, his flesh and his bones, my Victoria.

Killing for The Tree was the only way she knew to hold on to her memories and save her friends. Because of it, she had learned not to dwell too much on the death of anyone who had tried to kill her first. Killing to survive felt fair; still, some lines couldn’t be crossed without losing one’s self. So, she made her choice: she would give up her old life, her home, her grandmother’s smile… but she would keep what was left of her humanity.

“My name is not Victoria,” she said to The Tree. “And I’m not your anything.”

She sheathed the blade in her boot, and dragged the man away from The Tree. “All wars suck,” she said to the body, as she covered it with leaves. “I am done.”

Moments (or maybe lifetimes) later she found herself in the woods, standing in front of a mound of dry leaves covered in wildflowers. But she couldn’t remember why. A tree, its trunk depicting faces screaming in agony, grew crooked by the side of a bright trail.

She knew nothing about the place or herself, but walking away from the tree felt right.


, by Leila Bibizadeh

- partly inspired by this quote, from Terry Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment: “Perhaps that’s why men did it. You didn’t do it to save duchesses, or countries. You killed the enemy to stop him killing your mates, that they in turn might save you…”

- for Poets and Storytellers United--Weekly Scribblings #82: “War is over! If you want it.” and  Writers’ Pantry #83: It’s Spooky Time Somewhere.