Attics are “Forever”

Since I wrote about moving out, I suppose I should speak on moving in. We barely squeaked out of our old house by the deadline, July 28. The new owners took over the next day.

We, on the other hand, would have been homeless, but for the invitation to stay with my mother while we waited to close on the new house. There is something unavoidably awkward about being 46 and living with your mother. I’m sure it wasn’t a picnic for her either when she viewed the devastation in the wake of a family including two teens, a ten-year-old, a husband, two small, gassy dogs, and a cat. You don’t realize how set you are in your ways until you are removed from your natural habitat and collide with the unfamiliar, exposed to someone else’s routine.

Fast forward three weeks: I hoped that unpacking would be easier than packing, but it brought a whole new set of challenges. I didn’t have time to sort though things before I had packed them, especially items in the scariest of all places: the attic. (Insert horror movie background music.)

For 11 years, if I didn’t need it, but couldn’t yet part with it, I chucked it – eyes closed – into the large walk-in attic. I piled it higher and deeper, like a tell of ancient civilizations built one on top of the other.

Emptying the attic was the job I had dreaded most.

A friend and her posse of kids came to the rescue, fire-brigade style, and we emptied it post-haste. I peeked into a few boxes. “You obviously haven’t moved enough or you wouldn’t still have that,” commented the Wise Friend, a veteran of frequent moves. But I just had to “ooh and aah” over the cast of Risa’s leg that she broke jumping off a teeny-weenie step in the family room at age 2. (She’s 16.) The knitted cap Ross wore home from the hospital. (He’s 10.) Risa’s leopard fur-trimmed leather size 4T jacket: Boy, did she ever look cute in that. All boxes went into storage units to be dealt with later……

Now it was “later.” A new garage full of boxes including stacks and stacks of clothes containers saved for Younger Son. One problem: Younger Son is a completely different body type than Older Son. Husky Younger also completely skipped size 12 this year.

I do have an attic in the new house, but I am going to seriously consider what goes in it, because another Wise Friend has given me the “Key to a Successful Attic.” It is this: An attic is FOREVER. You want to keep the item, object, memento? Yes? Fine. But you’d better be ok with NEVER SEEING IT AGAIN. It is a certain mindset you must accept. This also requires that we either never move again, or we are fine with giving any attic possessions to the new owners.

I vote to stay.


Fooled Again


It is no fun to find out you’ve been duped. I recently deleted a post I had done a few years ago on the dangers of cooking with microwave ovens. I had read a scientific-sounding article and was completely convinced by it, even throwing out my microwave. Then I wrote a blog summarizing the article. Fast-forward to last week when I heard another allegation about the health hazards of microwaves. That led to finding out that at least two of the facts from the first article that I thought were true, were not. Now, here’s the problem: Does that mean the entire article was false? How can you know? We all find out 99.9% of our information from someone else. So whom do you trust?

How do you know what to believe? Someone said, well, don’t believe everything you read on the internet. (They wrote that on the internet.) Do I have to find a source that is written on a scroll or stone tablet now? Another person won’t look at information on a certain site because it has an “agenda”. Sorry, everyone has an agenda: I’ve got one right now. But they are selling something, they say. So you can’t believe someone’s information because they are selling something?

I think we are tired of being lied to, but I also think we go from one extreme to the other. We don’t want to believe anything that sounds outlandish, because we’ve been duped before and our pride got hurt too. But here again, the truth can be bizarre. There are many, many instances in history where information was dismissed as outlandish and later proven true.

I don’t know the answer. I sincerely wish that I lived in a perfect world and could trust everybody. Time seems to be the best way to prove the validity of something. But, in the meantime, I don’t think being overly cynical is much better than being too trusting. I’m not going to immediately fall for every conspiracy theory, but I’m not going to dismiss every crazy sounding thing as being utterly impossible either.

….. and I’m still not getting a microwave.

Ode to Yoga Pants

Shhhhh! I began a secret love affair with elastic after trying on my first pair of maternity pants. I only reluctantly stopped wearing them, apprehensive about appearing perpetually pregnant.

Along came the years of comfortable jeans. I never ventured into the world of sweatpants, noooo sir, for fear I would never come back. I knew that for me, sweatpants would lead me down the path of No Return. They are like the marijuana of clothes, leading eventually to house-slippers, dirty ponytails, and tube-tops for hard-core dressers. I knew my weaknesses all too well. I had to “just say no.”

One day I had a resolution to exercise. My biggest hurdle was the all important question, “What am I going to wear?”

It was then that I discovered yoga pants. They changed my life.

It was like wearing elastic from the waist down. Enough control to calm the jiggle of cellulite, enough stretch to not constrict. Perfection in pants to create an outward transformation. Without one single leg-lift or squat I at once created the aura of exercise. I found what I had looked for my whole life: The illusion of health. Who needs the gym?

But more than comfort, there was also an inner transformation. I became NINJA MOM. Dressed completely in black, I could move with serpentine ease through the grocery aisles. Chase a runaway cart? No problem! Perspiration armpit rings just added to the mystique of the hard-body illusion. The kid throwing up in the backseat? Just a cover for my secret mission.

So, if you see me somewhere out there in my yoga pants, be aware that in my uber-confidence I may be lost in thought and unaware of my environment, but that’s OK, ’cause at least I’ll look good.

Dressed to kill

Cultures vary widely in their views of feminine modesty and immodesty. Long ago, missionaries were distraught when visiting a Christian church in northern Congo. The missionaries suggested that the women wear blouses. The church leaders unanimously rejected the idea. It horrified them. At that time only prostitutes wore such coverings, since they were the few who could afford them.

In Micronesia a chief forbade any woman to enter the village with a blouse on, demanding instead that a grass skirt be worn that reached the ankles. Bare breasts, modest. Bare legs, unthinkable.

As an exchange student to Germany in the 80’s, I didn’t shave the whole time. Part of it was just to make my parents cringe upon my return, but part of it was an open-mindedness on my part to the culture. Not shaving meant you were just a regular girl. At that time it was seen as unneccessary and even as something a hooker would do. (This is exactly the former view here in the US not that long ago.)

Much of what we consider modest is culturally determined, but is it the right thing to do? Is it even healthy? What if there was something you wore, primarily because of modesty, that could kill you? Would it be moral to wear something that did THAT to your body? What if you could decrease your risk of a deadly cancer by 125 times by not wearing it?

Got your attention yet?

In a study of almost 5,000 women, Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismajijer found that if women:

  • wore their bras 24 hours per day they had a 3 out of 4 chance of developing breast cancer
  • wore bras more than 12 hours, but not to bed had a 1 in 7 risk
  • wore bras less than 12 hours had a 1 out of 52 chance
  • wore them rarely or never had a 1 in 168 chance (the same incidence as it occurs in men)

Any study that shows even a doubling of cancer chances usually gets the medical community’s immediate attention. (Think cigarettes and lung cancer.) But don’t wait for them to endorse a treatment that is both free and painless. Multiple millions of dollars are spent each year on medicines and treatments that leave women disfigured at best, though I see them as beautiful creatures regardless.

Don’t misunderstand me – I am not saying go topless – you can be modest and braless. You can wear a camisole or put band-aids on your nipples. Yeah, you read that right. The freedom of movement might freak you out at first, but you will be amazed at how much better you feel. You see, what’s happening is the bra puts pressure on the breast, limiting circulation and inhibiting the flow of toxins away from the breast. Circulation in the lymphatic tissues under the arms is absolutely essential for good health. Cancer is not the only disease that can be prevented.

For more information that will stun you, I suggest the book, Dressed to Kill. Plus, here is a link that has helpful info:

An accidental invention and your pots and pans

How did the search for a new refrigerant become a popular kitchen item? It started back in the 1930’s when GM and DuPont went on a joint venture to create a new refrigerant. The result – freon. Encouraged by the finding, DuPont began independent research along the same line.

Dr. Roy Plunkett of DuPont got the brilliant idea to combine a gas (having an unpronounceable name) with hydrochloric acid. Bracing themselves, he and his assistant opened the valve to the tank: Nothing happened except white flakes fell out. Risking an explosion, Plunkett sawed the tank in half. On the inside was the slipperiest synthetic solid ever invented, teflon.

It’s first use was in gasket seals for the Manhattan Project. Yes, the one with the atomic bomb.

A French engineer obtained a small amount which he thought would be great to coat his fishing gear. “Honey, could you put some on my frying pans?” his wife asked. Leave it to a woman to find the practical application for it. Patented in 1954, by 1960 it was on store shelves.

Too bad for us.

I know, who wants to use a chisel to remove a previously beautiful omelet from a pan? Each time a teflon-coated pot or pan is heated to medium heat or higher, components on the surface break down and release a toxic chemical called PFOA (perflourooctanoic acid), which the EPA has named a “likely” human carcinogen. DuPont has been heavily fined for allegedly hiding data about this toxicity.

How pervasive is it? In a 2007 study, Johns Hopkins found PFOA in 99% of 300 umbilical cord blood samples. Even though it doesn’t admit to any dangers, DuPont has reduced the amount of PFOA’s by 97 percent and says it will discontinue its use by 2015.

There are other similar non-stick coatings on brands like Stainmaster, Duracote, Resistal, Autograph, T-Fal, and Calphalon that release up to six toxic gases when heated even at just 325 degrees. And remember that teflon can survive forever in your body and the environment. I also avoid aluminum because of its possible link to Alzheimers.

There are some safe alternatives to cook on. Remember “the wonderful iron skillet”? (See that post.) Stainless steel, ceramic and porcelain enameled ware are others. My current favorite is Green Pan Cookware. It’s nonstick coating is made from sand-derived silica. Target carries a complete line.

Don’t despair. There are safe alternatives for you and your family that don’t involve chisels and hammers to remove stuck-on food.

Getting rid of lice

There are some things that grind your hectic life to a full and complete stop and lice is one of them. If you have children and actual contact with the outside world, you will probably live the total freak-out moment of seeing something itty-bitty scamper across your precious child’s head.

At that moment, the world becomes one giant louse and you feel like you’re living some really, really, bad B movie.

Take a deep breath……. You don’t have to jump in the car and squeal the tires on your way to the drugstore to buy Nix or Rid. Unfortunately, that is exactly what I did a few years ago when our family when through this. Even after a couple rounds of Nix, we were still battling lice. Not good considering the hair wash contains powerful pesticides similar to DDT. A friend who is also a holistic doctor told me to use olive oil, a shower cap, and perhaps the longest three hours of waiting we ever experienced. Apparently, the olive oil dissolves the exoskeleton of the louse. The application needs to be repeated, because eggs take several days to hatch. Of course, you also need the special nit comb to painstakingly comb out the hair.

Believe me, this works. Oh, you’ll still have post traumatic stress disorder, but it is good to know that there is a natural way to fight a natural pest.

Thoughts on toxins and aging

Funny how formaldehyde has the opposite effect on us that you would think. It makes things permanent press, yet the damage it does to our cells could contribute to wrinkles. It helps glue and lacquer finishes last, yet makes us sick, which may shorten our life. (Making us come unglued, so to speak.) It repels stains, yet makes us take in toxins. It’s the number one choice of preservative for a dead body, but does nothing to preserve our living one.

All this leads me to the question of what is a preservative for our youth? How can we age gracefully? There is a saying that people aren’t afraid of growing old, they just don’t want to grow ugly. Fortunately there is a cure for that. I call it aging “gratefully”.

The toxins you must purge for this are ingratitude and unforgiveness. They are far more deadly than anything you can be exposed to on the outside, because they come from the inside. They are far from easy to get rid of, and will sneak back in when you aren’t looking. No essential oil, vitamin, whole food, skin cream, or plant will help get rid of them. The mind and the heart are the key to real beauty, and even formaldehyde can’t take that away.