I love life!

Hi, I am Jo and this is my blog about my life. Here you will find entries on cooking, gardening, food safety and the interesting things happening in my search for an inexpensive and healthy way of living. My home is located in North Florida and I am relearning how to take care of myself at almost 50. This is the deep South so my garden and season may be a bit different than yours. I look forward to seeing what you have to say as time passes. Read on and have a beautiful day!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wild and crazy!

Sometimes, I just want to be wild and crazy. Most of the time I am a normal, stressed out working wife and grandma.

Please, don't mistake me- I have an amazing life, a great husband and a home many can envy. Every once in while it would be good to shake things up.  The most exciting thing in my life lately was running a 5K on Thanksgiving. That was OK but not anything insanely crazy. It was not even spur of the moment as I freakin' had to train to be able to finish.

The last time we tried spur of the moment we wanted to take the RV to Koreshan State Historic site for a few days. It was booked- nothing open til January. Seriously. Nothing at any of the local parks. We stayed home and got caught up on life.

There was a time, many moons ago, that I would poke my finger at a map and just get in my car and drive. I went on vacations alone, I went camping, I took day trips to festivals that sounded good or to towns I had never been to before. After all who hasn't been to Why Not, N.C.? Great artsy place it you have an inkling for a day trip.

The mind boggling part? I knew it wasn't forever and dreamed of a home with a loving husband and a garden. Seriously- a garden. Of course it was some big macho mountain man and we were going to live in Alaska, (I had the cabin plans all picked out) and survive on our homestead. Sigh- and I would have chickens. It was a very updated Little House on the Prairie- Little Cabin on the Tundra maybe? But with Chickens, don't forget the chickens.

Somehow, I ended up with a better man than I could have dreamed of, a 3 bedroom in the burbs in Florida and a garden. No snow, no fireplace, no chickens and not at bad at all. That is how it worked out. Now there is no desire for Alaska except maybe to visit and I am ok with having a store a few miles away.

Maybe now we just need to plan a little more wild and crazy- minus the youthful hangovers. Or maybe my wild and crazy now is joining a permaculture group and working towards finishing a half marathon. Someday I can look back and say, "There was a time many moons ago that I had a garden........."

What is your wild and crazy??            


Saturday, November 30, 2013

A 5-K, Turkey and Papaya Jam

Life has been fairly hectic lately...but when isn't it?

Work is crazy, the house is a wreck and 5 am is a time I see on a fairly regular basis for training for a half marathon. This week I even ran my first 5-k in 10 years and did not do bad at all. 9 seconds stood between my goal of 11 minute miles and the reality of my performance. So next time I will simply run 9 seconds faster. Or I may simply set another goal and blow my 9 seconds out of the water.

This week there was an awesome sale at Publix and turkeys were only .59 per lb. Frugal me went for the  lowest priced one in the freezer and it was a mere $10.08. It did not dawn on me that 10.08 translated into a big a** turkey. We went to mom's for Thanksgiving thus Mr. Turkey's goose was cooked on Friday. A 19 lb Turkey is FREAKIN' BIG- for two people. After an awesome dinner we pulled it all off of the bone and made 2 crock pots of stock that cooked overnight last night.

Turkey is great and a treat we savor only a few times a year. However, waking up this morning to the smell of turkey stock was completely nauseating. Windows were thrown open and the doors as well, to encourage a breeze to get the smell out of the house We did get 6 quarts of meaty rich stock. Four of which are resting in the freezer and two that are simmering in soup as I type. And...the house smells like turkey yet again.....sigh... this may be a record.

Simmering fruit and sugar replaced the smell of turkey for a few hours today as 15 lbs. of papaya became jam. (The 15 lbs was the peeled and cleaned weight). Pomona's pectin can make anything into jam if you try hard enough. There is an issue of adding acid to the papaya as it's natural pH is too high to be safely canned in a water bath. Lime juice and ascorbic acid worked well to get the jam in a lovely safe spot and not affect the beautiful taste of the sweet orange hued canned sunshine. We now have 20 glowing pints cooling and at least 60 more pounds of fruit on the tree. Seriously, I could start a business. Only  it would be regulated by the same division I work for and that gets waaaay too hairy. That gets filed under someday.

Hope everyone is enjoying Turkey as much as we are...


Friday, November 1, 2013

Pimento Cheese and Beer..... or.... Why I will never be stick thin!

Today I made pimento cheese. So yummy! Years ago at a small Country Club in Durham, NC, the little old lady who ran the snack bar taught me how to make real southern pimento cheese spread. It was so easy and so delicious. Pieces of shredded cheddar mixed with plain old mayonnaise and bits of canned roasted red pepper, adding sweetness to the spread. It was seasoned with only Tabasco and salt.

Spread on cheap white bread and grilled... OMG.....heavenly. When you add an ice cold beer on the side you enter another whole dimension...nirvana! From the same amazing woman I also learned about good ham salad and cheese straws. Anyone see where this is leading? Needless to say I was the thinnest of any time in my life. However, that was most likely from the pack a day habit, pot of coffee a day and the 12-16 hour workdays more than the food.

Greasy cheeseburgers with bacon, chili cheese fries, chili cheese burgers with slaw on them, 1/4 lb hot dogs with slaw and mustard, Carolina BBQ, chicken and dumplings, peach cobbler, dump cake, mustard greens and collards greens simply swimming in bacony brothy goodness, cornbread- Oh my! Long live the food of the south! All of it was amazing. Then I went to Culinary School and discovered warm buttery croissants stolen from the bakeshop and eaten with hot rich coffee to which full fat cream has been added. Followed by tastes of Tuit Amande, Creme DuBarry, Crepe au Crabe Benedictine. Yet, I was still thin. Again the pack a day, pot of coffee and long hours most likely contributed.

Then years later, reality hot and I stopped smoking. My weight went up but still was manageable. Grad school  and running came along and by that time I was vegetarian. Weight back down. Lovely!

Then when I moved back to Florida, running sucked (from asthma) and I gave up being vegetarian, moved in with my then boyfriend, now hubby, a chef. We cooked, we ate, we drank wine, such good food!! Weight really went up. Started doing serious yoga and riding my bike to work. Weight back down.

Yo-yo describes me. Got laid off and began sitting a lot on the next job, some yoga, no bike riding....Guess what?...Yep, weight back up. Asthma got a lot worse and I was sick a lot....on steroids... you see where this is going?

Today, I run when asthma permits. which happens to be several days on most weeks. Slowly, some of the inches are coming off. The weight...not as much but I feel tons better. The asthma is under control. A vegetarian diet is what I am eating most of the time. So bye bye double bacon cheeseburger.
But hey Pimento Cheese is still vegetarian and Gluten Free Beer Rocks. Tonight I had a little bit of nirvana, on gluten free crackers with a beer. It ain't Carolina BBQ but I am loving it!!!!    


Monday, October 21, 2013

My name is Jo and I am an OCD Gardener

Today I was told that I am obsessive about gardening. Honestly, that is what I was told.

Ok, to be honest, the conversation started with me commenting about a friend who had a husband with OCD tendencies that became obvious when they worked on a project together. My husbands reply, "I know how she feels."

Hmm, that did not see to be correct so I went with a joke, "Why, you are not OCD?"  It fell flat.

I followed with something along the lines of, "Wow, I am not OCD. Neurotic maybe. A control freak definitely. OCD, not so much."

The reply was staggering," Fear of dirt, contamination by germs, hoarding, obsession with garden and plants. You want more?"  

To be fair, he is correct on 3/4 of the list. I am paranoid about germs thanks to my job as a food safety inspector and foodborne illness. Did I mention my asthma leaves me vulnerable to many other illnesses? OK,germ paranoia- valid. Not afraid of dirt as much as annoyed by it. Partly valid.

Hoarding, not really. I prefer to think I keep a full pantry I always have one of everything and a back up. If there is a bargain we stock up. I say "we" because right now we have 8 boxes of cereal on hand that I don't buy or eat. Regardless of who buys it, we save a lot of money, and normally if it is not on sale or we have a coupon for it then we do not buy the item. Also, we rarely have to run to the store for one item to complete a recipe.  

Did I mention we cook? A lot. Almost every night. He is a chef and I started in kitchens 20+ years ago. We have ingredients for sushi, Indian curry and Moroccan chicken with salted limes on any given day. Lots of home canned stuff too.  And we use them - a lot. So not hoarding - a well stocked pantry. And that is all I hoard. I used to hoard books, then he bought me a Kindle. Hmm, didn't catch that before.  

My garden gets larger every year and we keep adding trees and plants. This year he added a pomegranate and a kiwi. Note, I said "he". Yep, he feeds the addiction. I grow vegetables, flowers, herbs and fruit trees. We eat it, we share it, I freeze it and can it. Sometimes I might even dry stuff too.

Today he came home with a bag of squishy seeds and said, "Do you want some butternut squash seeds?"  If that is an apology. I will take it. Besides no apology really necessary. He knows me so well and if it is true, it is true. There are plants on the patio,seeds starting there too. Flower heads drying in the back room and packet after packet of heirloom seeds in the cabinet. Gardening books on the nightstand and pumpkins curing on the porch. My name is Jo and I am an OCD gardener.

My life is beautiful.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Everyone deserves to eat!

1 in 6 Americans Face Hunger

The news out of Washington never fails to amaze me. The last few weeks have been no exception.

There is hunger in America. More hunger than we can possibly know, or imagine, and our government in D.C. has found now to be a good time to balance the books on the backs of the hungry. Politicians are spouting rhetoric that is unfounded about illegal immigrants receiving benefits. (They can't as they are not eligible) We hear about fraud in SNAP, and there is more fraud in Social Security as well as in Medicare. We hear stories of people buying lobster and steak using Supplemental Nutrition Benefits.
There are countless other excuses. And that is what they are excuses!

The best index to a person’s character is (a) how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and (b) how he treats people who can’t fight back.
                                                               Abigail Van Buren (Pauline Esther Friedman)

How much character do we, as Americans, honestly have?

We as a nation, have chosen to allow government to turn poverty into a crime! I have been poor. My family has been poor. At one point in time we used Food Stamps and qualified for reduced price lunches at school. It is doubtful my parents would even had applied for assistance had they been forced to undergo drug testing. Not because they were using drugs. (They were not) but because of the cost associated with the testing and the shame and stigma attached to the process. They were mortified enough due to simply needing assistance - that would have just compounded the issue. 

If you want drug testing for benefits fine. Everyone on Medicare and Social Security needs to be drug tested as well. The same for anyone employed by the government. My taxes pay for those so why not? We are willing to put undue hardship on others but can we handle it as well? 

What happens when a parent tests positive for drugs? We no longer allow their children to eat? Oh, wait...they are children of druggies so they don't matter? Really? Now the only meal those children will get will be when they go to school? Are we going to take children away from parents who test positive?  How is this all supposed to work? 

My family did not abuse the system. Why do we automatically assume that others lack the integrity to responsibly use SNAP benefits?  Because someone in D.C. said so? Because we read about rampant fraud and do not bother to check the facts- in any way?  

Hunger and poverty have become partisan political issues in the United States. We, as a nation, have chosen leaders focused not on the well being of the people but on their own political agendas. It is more important to "one up" the other party than to work to resolve issues. It is all about how the story spins in the media, not about protecting the rights of those they have been elected to serve. This story spins, and spins! We hear of "entitlements" and the surfer dude buying lobster. We rarely hear about poverty ridden areas where over 90% of children in school qualify for free or reduced price lunches.  

This is not just other people in the "inner cities." These are your neighbors, your coworkers or even your family.  Oh, you say but they don't abuse the system like the "others". Who are the "others"?? Tell me, please! The "others" are all around us. They are the elderly, the single mom down the street working two jobs, the young American Soldier living off base with a family or it could be you after a job loss or a medical crisis.

We can afford to pay for a space program, the world most hi-tech weaponry and countless staff for all of elected leaders.  Yet, we allow people to be hungry. Can someone explain this to me? 

There is not room on this blog to dispel all of the myths and rampant misinformation about SNAP benefits and hunger. The link below takes you to the Feeding America website and it rationally discusses the myths and realities of SNAP Benefits in the United States. Everyone should take the time to read this.

Sure, the Feeding America website  has a bias. However, they have cited RELIABLE sources for every one of the myths they dispel on the website.

Churches and hunger groups are struggling now with feeding those in need and we want them to take on even more? When will the craziness end? Because I don't see the end anywhere in sight!

Thursday, September 26, 2013


The new kicks !
There was a time in my life where I could easily run 5 miles at a steady pace and finished floating on air. The after moving to Florida from R.I., my asthma became much more pronounced and was untreated. That fact something was wrong became apparent the first time I tried to run here in SW Florida. That hot sweaty run ended with me prone on the living room floor in front of a fan gasping for air.

Since then there have been attempts in fits and starts but success has been out of reach. I tried training for a marathon but did not recognize the severity of my asthma and suffered the entire time. It ended up with me quitting training when I could run 11 miles. I was sick all of the time and constantly run down. My belief was that if I pushed hard enough I could muscle my way through training. Not so. This is doubly true when 1) You don't recognize that asthma is the issue. 2) The people training you are runners and not aware of the signs of asthma. and 3) If asthma is untreated you get sick - a lot

Yoga then became my go to recreation of choice. I still love yoga but have always yearned to run again. My husband is a marathoner and he is surrounded by hard core runners. Every year we make the sacred trek to Boston where I follow along as he registers and attends the trade show. Then on race day I am the carrier of "Crap". My bag is full of water, snacks and now even electrolytes to share with him after he finishes. I watch and wish.

One of the hardest days for me was attending a wedding shower of a friend. Most of the attendees were runners and had just run a half marathon that morning. Everyone who ran got a headband from the brides mother and I was brushed aside as, "Oh, you don't get one you didn't run this morning." Sadly, I had spent 3 times the amount of their running time cooking for the shower. I went home upset and devastated.

Here is what very few people know. My asthma at one point was considered "life threatening." Thanks to my amazing allergist, I was able to take a new medication that effectively controls my allergic response that causes asthma. My life is more normal, however, asthma will always be an issue. Training for me is MUCH slower than another persons might be and my pace is snail like as well. Running requires me to be aware of my body, especially my breathing. My inhaler is always with me and all of my medications must be taken religiously in order for me to be physically active.

Asthma is really serious and a person with it may look and act completely normal. Left untreated, asthma can progressively worsen impacting a persons life in ways that a healthy person can not understand. It has taken my husband years to grasp that I really am trying but that my lungs REALLY can slow me down.

Running is slowly becoming part of my life again. The pre dawn hours are when it is cool enough to run thus the sunrise is becoming a regular sight. It is lovely! My pace is nothing to brag about and I will never win any awards. However, I am still trying and that in and of itself means something. So when I cross the finish line at a race at the end of the pack people who know me will understand that my victory is not simply about beating a time or speeding by other people. My victory is so much more.      

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The South Florida Garden

Gardening in South Florida is like gardening no place else that I have ever lived. When others are finishing the harvest and planting cool weather crops, I am planting beans, collards, eggplant and tomatoes. Carambola, star fruit, is hanging golden and ripe from the tree and tempting us with its slight floral fragrance and delectable sweetness. The perfect snack picked warm from the sun, served with no frills, simply sliced and shared with a loved one. Each slice in the shape of a star, enthralling to three year olds and their grandma's alike.

It is cooling here as well. Our evenings are dropping to the 70's and the days will slowly drop in temperature to the low 80's. The peak of winter will bring days in the 70's and nights in the high 40's.  That is when my cold weather crops will be planted. Red kale, that survives into summer, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, bok choy and even turnips all end up in my winter garden.        

Avocado, hidden in the leaves.
The avocados are green and beginning to ripen. Eventually, the green goodness will become a creamy rich addition to salads or guacamole. Mmmm....lovely.    

More papaya than we can handle.
So many papayas in the tree that it appears a strong wind could take it down. When golden and rip they become a sweet glowing orange jam. Perfect for toast, bagels and even pancakes. Bliss in a jar with a hint of lime.

The awesome Seminole pumpkin.
Pumpkins, in South Florida? Why yes, Seminole pumpkins. They will wrap around everything in their path and send out roots when the vine touches soil, or rocks and even tree trunks. Prolific does not even describe this green entity. We have eaten the babies sauteed with garlic and tomatoes, put medium sized ones into frittata and are awaiting the large ones for baked squash and pie. they are well worth thew $3.00 spent on the seed. Caution- they will take over!!! These were planted in early July with nothing around them and they still took over. AT one point they were even climbing the side of the house.      

We also have Purple Podded Pole Beans, Gold of Bacchau Beans, Georgia Collards, Bunching Onions, Serpente di Sicilia (edible gourd), Eggplant (unknown variety), Arugula (unknown variety), Mustard Greens (Unknown Variety) in the ground and countless herbs and vegetable starts waiting to be planted. Not to mention countless other fruit trees and plants. 

Gardening in South Florida is unique and brings me countless hours of joy. May your garden, regardless of location, bring you joy as well.  


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pyrex Addiction!!!

Just a few pieces of Pyrex- with out new vintage 1960's thrift store fan 
I have a confession...I am addicted to Vintage Pyrex, The funkier the better. And I am sucking my husband into my addiction through the gateway drug of ...gasp...Fire King Vintage Coffee Cups. Fire king was the Anchor Hocking version of Pyrex/ Corelle. Yes, it is true, my plates are Corelle as well :)

Fire King Glassware

Ahh, Pyrex, Vintage Pyrex,,,,sigh!

There is nothing better than the retro glass. Microwave safe, oven safe and  dishwasher safe. Mine rarely sees the dishwasher as that can wear the finish. 

Pyrex is always in use in our house. They are not just collector pieces. A thought that would terrify any serious collector. The bowls are used to mix cookie dough, the dishes bake meatloaf and cornbread and at any given tine there are several Pyrex containers of food in the fridge.    

The pieces I covet and do not own are the colored mixing bowls like my grandmother had when I was a child. 4 bright primary colors in graduated sizes. It would tie in to my eclectic mix of Pyrex chaos in the cupboard. I am hinting for Christmas so we shall see. (He reads this sometimes so I may stand a chance). Actually any Pryex will work.

What is your secret...or not so secret addiction......


Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day and this afternoon people across the country will be having cook outs, going boating or simply enjoying a day away from the grind of employment. Many Americans will be going to prayer services and memorial events to remember those who have fallen in defense of our nation.

Me, I am somewhere in between. I have served as have many family and friends. The military gave me a strength of purpose and a belief in myself that prior to my enlistment was shaky at best. However, I am hesitant to remember my time in the service. Veteran's Day and Memorial Day are rough as they remind me of a time that is sometimes better and easier to forget. That was a time full of an innocent hope and promise. That hope and promise were tarnished by the actions of one man in a barracks room on Camp LeJeune.

Having had military sexual assault in the headlines has been hard for me lately. It is great to see that FINALLY it is being addressed but the asinine, ignorant and arrogant comments have been tough to endure. On discussion boards after articles on sexual assault, people posting, mainly men, have said everything from "Women don't belong in the military anyway....If they were not there it (sexual assault) would not happen." to "All humans are animals and men are programmed to procreate." WTF. I have served and have an honorable discharge to prove my service. My enlistment was not an automatic approval to be disrespected or assaulted for my gender. The amount of disrespect to women and outright dismissal of sexual assault on those boards turns my stomach.

Additionally, there are dismissive comments by vets and non vets alike about "liberal bias" and the "liberal agenda". Sexual assault has nothing to do with politics. Assault is about one person exerting his or her dominance over another. I am sure politics do not impact who a rapist decides to assault. Somehow there is always one person who has to play politics and spout anger when it simply does not apply.

I will continue to follow the news on sexual assault in the military and educate when possible. It sad that it mars what should be days of reflection and  acknowledgment of service.

So today I will remember and honor those who have died in the many wars our nation has fought. They have been men and women of many ages who have in times of crises stepped up and done what many could not or were unwilling to accomplish. May they not have given their lives in vain. May we, as a nation come together to honor all who have served.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Grace Unexpected

Let me begin by saying Happy Mother's Day to all of the Mom's who read this blog!! Without you none of us would be here today.

Unfortunately, I have been laid up with a wicked sinus infection this past week. Prior to that our week ends have been filled with travelling to Boston for the Marathon (Yes, we were there.), a friends wedding, my birthday, watching grandkids and Mother's Day. Today is also our 6th anniversary. The past few weeks have been a crazy time full of both great things as well as those that make one question humanity.

However, it has brought my husband and I to the realization of what really matters. We always knew love and family were the core of our life and all of this has simply cemented the concept further. When people die there is a void left behind. Personally, I want that void to be filled with remembrances of my love and compassion for everyone in my life. It is a lofty goal and I am human, therefor, this could be beyond my reach.  

Life is a fragile web and too often our self absorption, our busyness and involvement in non essential issues allow us to forget that fragility. All of the drama of the past few weeks has been tough. Somehow now I feel that fragility inside of me and at odd times a softening of my heart towards everyone. It is a simple tenderness similar to what one feels when holding a new baby or staring into the eyes of their beloved. And that feeling of expansion is both humbling and awe inspiring.

People strive for years reaching out to the universe, to God, or to anything to cope with the craziness of the lives they lead. Then grace floats in at the time it is least expected and your heart opens, overflowing with love. Sometimes it happens as a result of a tragedy. May that feeling of tenderness abide in my heart as long as possible.

On this Mother's Day may your heart be full of love and may grace walk quietly into your life.



Friday, April 12, 2013

Military Fitness Challenge

Although my blog has not had a new post in a couple months it is still getting lots of views. Go figure - so a big thanks to my readers!!!

This year will be my 45th Birthday. In a nutshell- I freaked out!!! Completely and utterly fell apart.
And this drama from someone who said, "Why color your hair?" and "What is wrong with aging gracefully?"

Then I resolved to have an awesome birthday. To that end my hair has been cut and colored and we have reservations at a beachfront hotel in Naples for the night. O.k., so we have a friend getting married there as well. Two birds....and all that.  

So you ask what is the Military Fitness Challenge and the answer is ...the final step of my breakdown.
It is an idea from the depths of my age addled brain that actually seems possible the more I think about trying it out.  20 some years ago I completed basic training on Parris Island. That short stint in Basic gave me a smokin' hot body.  I must admit it was torture of going through everything to graduate as a Marine but time diminishes the pain as it passes.

Parris Island is not getting me back- ever- but what I did while I was there can be applied to my life now. Albeit with some modifications for my age. There will be no "pogey bait." Snack foods high fat and high calorie, sodas, candy and ice cream all constitute "pogey bait." Beverages are water only as we carried canteens everywhere. Coffee, milk, juice and tea were and  will remain acceptable. In basic we had no alcohol or cigarettes either. Since cigarettes have been out of my life for 13 years that is a non issue. Alcohol, however is another story. Sigh. First I am going down to one drink a day - as soon as we get back from Boston - on Tuesday.

The key to the whole thing, however, is the dreaded exercise. We worked out for hours a day! Sadly, I do not have hours a day. I do have extra hours on weekends and those will go towards long runs and bike rides. The end goal is the U.S.M.C. Fitness Test adjusted for age.    
That translates into a 3 mile run in 33 minutes, 45 crunches and a 90 second arm hang or 3 pull-ups.
Basic on Parris Island when I went through was 13 weeks. 13 weeks from now is July 5 2013. Thus on July 5, 2013 I will be able to run, crunch and pull my way up into fitness. For the sake of full disclosure I must admit I can run 2 miles comfortably now, which is better than when I went to boot camp.

If you would like to join me you can look up your favorite branch of the military and their fitness test requirements. All can be adjusted for age. If you are already in the military you are all set though you should try an ass kicking yoga class as your challenge.

Anyone interested??  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

And you could go lick a doorknob.....

This week found me flat on my back with full blown influenza.

As in fever, chills and downright miserable ickiness. All in all nowhere near my planned activities had intended me to be this week. Had I obtained my vaccine as suggested I should have been protected.

I did not. Thus 4 days in bed and today finds me bit more energetic, definitely cranky and ready to get out of the house. Which after writing this is what is planned. A short excursion to the store.

Let me just say the flu sucks! My body ached, the fever made me miserable and my bed head was atrocious. My awesome hubby brought me jello and gingerale as well as picked up my Tamiflu and cough syrup. (As he should have -I was in no shape to go anywhere).

After being admonished to stay home by the PA at the doctors office, my week was spent in the spare room- quarantined! And what did I do all week. Between naps I caught up on a couple blogs and read up on influenza. Figured it couldn't hurt since t.v. sucked and knowing thy enemy always helps.

After reading the CDC website and the Mayo clinic website I concluded the PA was correct and I did indeed have the flu (not that there was much of a doubt). Then after reading the comments on the CNN articles and the NPR articles I concluded people are morons!

Seriously, the lack of knowledge exhibited by people posting comments was pretty amazing! Wow- just- wow! So here are a few basic facts:

1) Influenza is a virus.
2) Viruses do not respond to antibiotics. They do respond to antivirals like Tamiflu and Relenza.
3) Influenza may cause a person to develop complications caused by bacteria- pneumonia is an example. Then antibiotics may be necessary.
4) A flu shot does not guarantee immunity and can help safeguard your health
5) If you are part of a susceptible i.e., elderly, chronic disease etc. you should be vaccinated.
6) Just because you have never had a vaccination and never had the flu does not mean you are automatically immune
7) It takes up to 2 weeks for the vaccine to be effective. You can become sick in that time period.
8) The vaccination covers three strains of the flu virus. The drug makers are making an educated guess when the vaccine is formulated each year. You come in contact with another strain after vaccination and then you may get the flu.
9) Tamiflu and like drugs have to be administered in the first 48 hours or they will not work properly. After that it is rest and plenty of fluids.
10) The flu is highly contagious! Stay home until you have been without a fever for 24 to 48 hours and that is without Tylenol or a like drug lowering it for you!!      

Oh and to the poster who said ".....licking a door knob is the same as a vaccine....." Wow!! Really??? Glad you are not my parent!

Seriously, this virus is tough. It hurts and at times it made me cry. I can't imagine my grandbabies feeling like I did. So if you have it -stay home. If your kids have symptoms keep them home. And vaccinate!!!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Government Coming to Harass You!

My husband mentioned a story he heard on NPR about food safety yesterday. Then this morning he reminded me about it and said it was on the NPR website. While enjoying my coffee and kicking my cat away from my feet I read the the article . All in all, a pretty vague commentary about upcoming regulations that will impact agriculture and food processing in the future. The article is here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/01/04/168607713/fda-to-release-rules-to-strengthen-safety-of-food-supply

The comments to the article, however, provided a dose of reality. Most were written by industry representatives, farms and businesses directly impacted by the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). When a microbiologist made and insightful comment about ways food can be contaminated another person "respectfully" disagreed asking that she cite sources and stating she had a vested interest. Yet, the farmers and industry reps commented in vague terms crying big government and the demise of the small farmer.

The FSMA exempts small farmers and Good Agricultural Practices (part of FSMA) stress mainly employee health and hygiene and uncontaminated water.   Here is the list of key concepts for produce safety from the FDA website:

  • Irrigation and other agricultural water
  • Farm worker hygiene
  • Manure and other additions to the soil
  • Intrusion of animals in the growing fields.
  • Sanitation conditions affecting buildings, equipment and tools

The link to the entire article on the FDA website is below:

Having been in unpermitted facilities and facilities that choose not to follow state and federal law I can say with all honesty that these laws are necessary. You are welcome to disagree.

A few examples: An unpermitted warehouse that had roaches crawling out of pallets of food. not one or two insects - hundreds. A permitted facility infested with rats that did not clean up any rodent feces or dead rodents until forced to clean by closure of the affected area. Facility managers that turn off hot water to the facility then lie and say the "circuit just blew". Packing houses that have layers of mold and grime on walls with lizard droppings in processing areas.

Then there are always the non permitted facilities that we stumble on that have no hand wash sinks in processing areas, no hot water and sometimes no clue of food safety.

Really, too much regulation??? Just because you think you are doing it "right" does not make it so. I can't tell you how many times someone tells me they have been in business "forever" and nobody has become ill. That same person then turns around scratches their body or coughs in their hand and returns right back to handling food. No hand washing and not realizing what they have just done.

 Why am I mad? Because the crappy places we see are not news. Our jobs do not provide large amounts of capital to the state thus we have NO lobbying voice. We in affect have no voice. We are viewed  simply as "the government" coming to harass you and destroy your business.    

Why do we need these laws? Here is a simple test. The next time you are in a public restroom watch how people wash their hands or even if they wash their hands.Do the sinks even have hot water, do people wash for at least 20 seconds and actually make suds? And they are now going to the salad bar that you also ordered.

If we can't trust people to even wash their hands properly how can we trust industry to police themselves without the laws? And who will be screaming when the next outbreak occurs?


Friday, January 4, 2013

Babies, Beans and Bursting with Gratitude!

Almost three weeks ago we welcomed a newborn grandson into the family and today we welcomed his new baby boy cousin! Our cup runneth over. 2013 is the year for babies!

Babies are such a beautiful gift. Babies are hope personified. Holding both of them it feels like my heart simply can't get any bigger. Both of them join 3 year old siblings at home who caused me to feel similarly at their births.            

There is no way to even top the feelings of being around a new baby and watching the proud and loving parents hold such a tiny infant and marvel at their perfection. For all babies are perfect and all are beautiful to behold.

So my afternoon was spent quietly at home reading then planting beans in the garden. While digging in the cool moist earth my mind and my heart kept going back to the two little ones and their adorable brother and sister. Precious and innocent, my gratitude for having them in our lives is limitless.

There is really nothing more to add but a large sigh of contentment!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!
Let the resolutions begin. I wish Everyone a bright and happy 2013!