Escape

Some of you may have noticed that I didn’t post for a few days nor did I reply to comments. Last week I finally decided it was time to kick COVID down the road; I took a road trip to visit Wisconsin. Along the drive I began to notice yards signs for Biden/Harris. Not just real estate sized signs, but huge 4 feet by 6 feet signs. Being in farm territory the signs were big so people would notice. I was beginning to regret coming into such hostile territory when a Trump sign appeared, then another and another. I would say that Wisconsin is more for Biden. I also now know why we refer to them as cheese heads, and it’s not because of the Green Bay Packers either.

I stopped at a truck stop to relieve the pressure on my prostate and spotted a tall thin black man hawking tee shirts outside. The front of the shirt said “Biden Sucks”, the back of the shirt said “Nancy Swallows.” He was selling them like hot cakes. I resisted

Today I heard that our governor has declared Wisconsin out of bounds. Anyone entering Illinois from Wisconsin will have to self quarantine for fourteen days before making contact with the general population. What is a person to do? Sit in his car for two weeks? I say that decree is long past being effective because the COVID numbers are in decline. That announcement should have been declared on March first. That is what happens when we put the Governor in charge of protecting us. It is also an indicator of the guys ability to think rationally.

I found the people of Wisconsin in strict adherence with their state recommendations. They all wore masks, kept their distance and generally were friendly. The restaurants and bars were open for inside seating. The towns I visited were on lakes so most people wanted outdoor seating on the shoreline. Shops selling stuff had sanitizer at the entrances with signs asking people to please squirt some on your hands to kill any COVID you may have picked up at the last place you were in.

Tramping through tee shirt shops didn’t really turn me on and the only place I did get turned on was out of bounds for me, an art gallery. I saw two large oils that I would have popped for if I weren’t selling all my stuff to simplify.

Note the price difference. I thought it is hilarious.

To make my life easier, I self declared this a cheat weekend and KETO be damned. I ate stuff like a crazy person, bread, pastries, ice cream, and sugary fruits. Life is too short not to enjoy it. It was in direct opposition to my goal of losing the beer belly which I developed while enjoying life over the past twenty years. I hate my beer belly. It gets in the way of too many things, and since I can’t seem to keep food in my mouth lately the droppings always land on my belly and dirty a nice clean shirt.

There were not many people enjoying the lake on boats. I think because it is mid-September many of the boats have been pulled from the water already. The weather was ideal for water sports, in the mid-seventies, no wind, and continuous sun.

I woke up Saturday morning to find a Harvest Festival going on under my window. There was not a single warning sign anywhere about it, but the locals were already streaming in by 7:30 a.m. Everyone followed the rules. I stopped at the Lions booth to learn what they were selling: roasted corn and baked potato. Too bad I just had a huge breakfast.

One thing I found hugely obvious is the number of Mexican businesses in town; four restaurants, a western wear shop, smaller super mercados, a bar, and a barber shop that was open on Sunday all within two blocks on Main street. They have landed and are obviously not letting anybody get in the way of their making a better life for themselves.

The biggest mishap of this adventure was leaving the charger for my lap top at home. I was able to watch a single episode of my favorite series when the Mac died. That was really the main reason I didn’t post during the trip. It forced me to watch conventional TV, but the picture was not HD and I hated it. All my reading material is on the lap top, so I couldn’t read a book, I resorted to the Enquirer tabloid, but that only took thirty minutes to read cover to cover. I got sucked in by a headline declaring Michelle Obama was sick of Barrack and wanted to throw him off the roof. Inside, the story didn’t have anything harsh to say about the couple, In fact I thought they wasted the ink on it. I’m sure the Enquirer doesn’t give a rats ass about not delivering all they wanted was for me to drop the money for their tabloid, and they succeeded.

I sat in the quiet room on Saturday evening thinking it was only yesterday that I left home. It felt like a week ago. The getaway succeeded in taking my mind off the drone-like life I have been leading.

Oh yeah, the soy beans are yellow and the corn husks are beginning to shrivel like they are drying out too. Soon the bright green Deere harvesters will be smoking away in field after field stripping the ground of its summer output.

. . . and that is all I want to say about that.

It’s Not Keto

What a great day! The sun is shining, the temperature is in the seventies, and I am sitting cooped up inside writing this post. I’m busy eating snacks made with my Keto bread that I baked yesterday. Today, at the Dollar store, I bought a smaller bread pan for my next try. I am convinced that I can make a bread that will satiate my hunger for bread.

It is the time of year when the days grow shorter and the body craves food. I feel like a bear who is eating anything and everything to get ready for winter. The problem is that the bear loses all the weight he put on while he hibernates, but I won’t. My weight and waistline will continue to grow all winter. Unless of course, I fight off the urges and continue with my Keto diet.

Without my bike riding activity, I have packed on an extra thirty pounds and it really affected me in many ways. First, I was so heavy that riding my bike was a great effort. I had to buy clothes that fit at least three times, and I felt crappy all the time. My back aches increased in frequency and severity, nothing I did would make it go away worked. I was afraid to bend over for fear of getting the pain that resembled an ice pick in the back. The more I ate the more I wanted to eat. I was sleepy all the time, even after sleeping for ten hours. I tired easily on walks, therefore I didn’t walk. The weight gain was a death spiral for me. I had to do something.

One of Peg’s grand daughters who is skinny told me she was on a Keto diet. I asked her why she wanted to lose weight when she didn’t have any to spare. She told me it wasn’t for weight loss, but for feeling better. I liked the name Keto and began looking into it. I learned that in my lifetime I had used the Keto diet several times, and each time I lost substantial weight. In my day it was referred to as the low carb diet.

Ketogenic Foods

People now get sick of me telling them “it is not Keto” when they tempt me with some scrumptious pastry or potatoe dish. I do it as a positive reinforcement for myself. I notice that as soon as I stop saying it is not Keto that I begin to cheat. I cheat enough as it is because I refuse to give up drinking wine. I gave up wine for a month and it didn’t affect my weight one ounce, so I continue to drink wine in moderation. I also find myself switching to the hard stuff which is Keto. The hard stuff like vodka or scotch has a noticeable effect on my feelings. Like I get hangovers after a night of martinis. Although I felt weird and had a hangover after drinking more than my usual glass of wine after my last Lions Club meeting.

One day soon I will reach my weight goal, and I wonder what I will do then? In order to stay Keto, I’ll also have to cut calories to match my activity. In other words, I’ll be be starving, and starving is not a good feeling.

What I need is Keto.2

. . . and that is all I have to say about that.

Baking Day-Bread & Brownies

Being on a Keto diet has made me wish for things like bread, pastries, pasta, and all things that I ate while growing up. Earlier in the week I got the bug to research some recipes for Keto breads made from coconut flour. I found one or two that I liked and watched a video or two about making the breads. I picked up one hint from a baker which made perfect sense to me and today I tried his idea. Basically there is no yeast in Keto breads, there is no real sugar for the yeast to process and to make the bread rise. Keto breads are somewhat flat and are denser than regular breads. His secret improvement came about because there are so many eggs in the bread that the bread tastes “eggy” by adding the yeast you give the bread a more yeasty taste. It works.

I made one fatal error in making this loaf, I set the oven time for 55 minutes when I should have taken it out at 50, or even 45 minutes. The crust is very dark brown but the bread is baked through. The crust is very crunchy and grainy. The inside is a little dry near the crust but okay at the center. Another error was in using too large a bread pan. It will be better with a 3 by 7 pan, I used a 4 by 8. The batter was spread too thin and thus my slices are only two inches tall.

After baking the bread I immediately started a recipe for keto brownies, also made with coconut flour. This is the third time I have made brownies and this time I paid attention to not make the mistakes of the previous batches. One major mistake was in over baking the recipe, i.e. too long in the oven. Like the bread, my early batches of brownies were too dry around the edges and very nice in the center. This time the batch came out of the oven looking great all the way to the outer edges. I was surprised when I cut it. It is very rich with a creamy chocolate center.

In the major leagues that is batting one for two or .500 batting average, I would make millions if this effort was in the National League.

And that is all I’m going to say about that.

A Little Bit Tipsy

What do you do when you are a little bit tipsy and you want to post for your blog? You write whatever comes to mind of course. That is where I am at this moment. In a few seconds the tipsy will wear off and I’ll begin to make some sense. Tipsy is a condition one feels immediately after a glass of wine with a pizza. The feeling can only be described as light headed, happy, whimsical. I will continue after returning from a two mile walk and a break with another glass of wine, that is if I get lucky with my drinking partner.

Well I’m unhappy to report that the drinking partner fizzed out and the walk took a direction away from wine and turned into three miles, not two. Returning home exhausted I watched my favorite series Heartland for a couple hours and then turned to Tin Star. I finished the first season of Tin Star and was totally surprised at how it ended. The writer of this program solves all problems with alcohol and murder.

I retired for the evening and slept hard waking only to relieve the pain of an over full bladder. I am so sick of eggs for breakfast that this morning I had some left over chili. The carbs in the chili have left me very sleepy. All I want to do is to rest my head on the keyboard and sleep.

This evening I meet with my Lions club; half of us will be in person and the other half will be with us on ZOOM. Our speaker for the night is also on ZOOM. That should make things very interesting. Think of twenty five people spaced apart for social distancing all straining to see a postage stamp size image on a computer screen to hear a speaker. If this works, I’ll proclaim it a miracle.

I anticipated the problem last week and have made arrangements with the Park District to borrow their fifty-inch TV for our zoom presentation. One of our members is an IT man and he has promised to hook the TV into the laptop and to connect our microphone and speaker. I’m hoping this will set a new trend for zoom-in-person meetings.

My job tonight is to recruit Lions for three service projects: the first being a paint party to coat Fort Frankfort with a clear coat of sealant. The second is to recruit Lions to plant a few trees in a newly rehabbed park. Lastly, I must form a committee to plan and run an eightieth anniversary celebration/fund raiser. The Frankfort Lions celebrate eighty-years of continuous service to the community in February, 2021. What better way to celebrate than by having fun while raising money to keep serving. The whole plan will be dependent upon us meeting State of Illinois guidelines for COVID-19. I’m thinking that by then Illinois or at least Will County will be totally free to do as it pleases.

I mentioned Fort Frankfort above. Let me explain what it is. Twenty years ago a group of citizens formed an organization to build a playground for the kids. This playground is huge and unlike any other in neighboring communities. It was funded and built by the hands of Frankfort residents. Fort Frankfort resides in the center of a very large tract of land which has since become a mecca of outdoor recreation with lighted ball fields, soccer fields, a splash park, a dog park, tennis ball courts, pickle ball courts, volley ball courts, basketball courts, frisbee golf, walking paths and more. All because a group residents wanted to give the kids a safe and adventurous place to play. The Park District developed a showcase facility around Fort Frankfort.

One Lonely Day = 15 Cigarettes

This summer has been wonderful, and strange at the same time. Weather-wise I couldn’t ask for anything better, but Labor Day weekend was a big disappointment. It felt like Frankfort celebrated a weekend off. For forty years we have had a Fall Festival on Labor Day weekend. This year it was cancelled because of COVID. We will eventually recover from this shock, but it may take a long time, like several years.

Suddenly, fall is sneaking in and the weather is changing. Temperatures are dropping rapidly. It seems like I just got acclimated to living in ninety degrees when all of a sudden today it was sixty. Next week we will have some warm days but in general the temps will swing downward. Fall is in the air, the leaves are dropping from the trees and changing color too. Flowers and plant life are withering from the recent drought. I called it sneaking in, but it seems more like a thud, and its here.

The weather change has me thinking about wintering in a warm climate. I haven’t had that urge for several years, but now I do. I need to get away and shock my life into something new. The one problem I have with this plan is that it is the stress of distancing that has caused me to want to seek out a new life somewhere else, and COVID will be with me anywhere in the world I might want to escape to. I have a lot of thinking and researching to do before I make any reservations.

One scary thought is that my friend base in Phoenix is smaller now than it was six years ago. Being alone will not help to improve my attitude at all. I read a short article published in September, 2020 issue of Departures magazine titled “Happiness” by author Eviana Hartman on how happiness affects people’s lives and one sentence stunned me.

“Happy people are less likely to catch a virus, and loneliness can be as damaging to physical health as smoking fifteen cigarettes per day.”

I quit smoking forty-two years ago, and it scares me to know that I can wipe out the benefits by feeling lonely. Loneliness is one of the biggest problems I encountered after each of my life partners died. It took a long time to be happy again, and I worked hard at changing my life in order to reach a happy state. So far, I haven’t reached happiness after Peg’s passing, but it’s only been fourteen months.

All I can say is that I’m working on it, and that is all I want to say about that.

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