Category Archives: Keetah

Pretty Indulgences

I’m not one to want possessions, but I think this should be mine:

Collection of pretties.

This was from an art show/viewing of collections that I went to right after Half-Drag. The juxtaposition of the two shows was thrilling and each was equally exciting/disturbing.

Also disturbing is the rate at which Keetah is aging. I stopped by to love her yesterday and left with sadness.

Little old friend with a broken meow

Keetah is not allowed to age any more.

Today I’m recovering from an outrageously delicious steak dinner at Iron Barley, as well as drinks at the local piano bar. Such painful indulgences.

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Keetah Cameo 2

So precious.

Cute cute cute (photo via Porkchop).

Keetah Cameo

Mrawr!

Keetah lives with Porkchop now (well, since mid-Mayish). Sometimes I visit.

It’s sad to see her age and lie about, doped up on hyperthyroid meds.

Rosemary Hands

My gloves smell like rosemary. If you see me sniffing my gloves, that’s why.

Yesterday morning I picked a whole mess of herbs:

Good smelling stuff

Now they’re hanging in paper bags in a closet. This is my first foray into herb drying!

With the hope of the plant living through winter, I left a few branches on the rosemary bush. My rosemary never makes it through, but maybe this winter is the year?

I long for the car-sized rosemary bushes of New Mexico!

This (fake) tree isn’t quite car-sized, but it’s ours:

Lights! Tree! Presents!

We left a spot on the tree skirt for Keetah. It’s her favorite place to be! When she isn’t there, she’s here:

Mrawr!

Over the weekend, I made my favorite tofu curry stew:

Best stew

It’s lovely, and I don’t know why I only make it once a year.

Right now, I have three knitting project underway, and pictures of none. Next time!

Have a good week!

Sweet Temptations

Two weeks ago, I gave up sugar and caffeine. I’m also putting an abeyance (hello, GRE vocab word!) on grains and starchy foods.

Unfortunately, this comes at a time when Porkchop’s younger brother is the manager at Jilly’s Cupcake Bar.

Seriously? Thanks, Universe.

This box nearly did me in over Memorial Day weekend:

Box full of sugar and pain.

But Porkchop kept me strong, and I didn’t set myself back with cupcakes.

You might think I’m crazy for giving up sugar and other tasty treats, but I was feeling crazy while on the sugar. I mentioned some of this stuff previously while writing about going gluten-free, but I’m not sure if it’s the gluten that was bothering me. When I eat refined grains (gluten-free grains are the worst), anything with refined sugar or other sweeteners in it, dates, potato chips, corn in any form, bananas (which are super sweet), and a host of other things, I have the following problems:

  • cheeks flare up right away and remain hot for some time
  • fatigue and complete exhaustion in extreme cases
  • foggy brain that lasts for a couple of days
  • anxiety and depression
  • indecisiveness (grocery shopping while I feel bad takes forever, and I feel like an incompetent driver)
  • extreme hunger
  • headaches
  • dizziness in extreme cases
  • difficulty sleeping

After consulting with my primary care physician and an endocrinologist, the consensus is that I have reactive hypoglycemia. But this is where I part ways with the endocrinologist.

The endo suggested Celiac’s, which I doubted (and the test came back negative). When I pointed out that I have had my worst episodes after eating gluten-free grains (spelt, I’m looking at you), he declared that I’m depressed. I told him that when I eat the items listed above and start feeling bad, then yes, I often become depressed. However, I am not depressed otherwise. The endo is welcome to his opinion, but if I tell someone that sugar makes me feel bad, I can’t figure out why more credence is given to the theory that I’m depressed, rather than the theory that sugar fucks me up. At least I received a diagnosis of reactive hypoglycemia, so I can now see a nutritionist, which is what I really wanted.

Overall, I’m feeling much better, but I have my bad days, especially when I test the food waters. I had very small servings – less than a 1/4 cup – of brown rice Monday night and Tuesday at lunch, and I became utterly exhausted afterwards. Monday night, I went to bed at 8:30. By the end of Tuesday, I was so tired I was reduced to tears.

So, I’m keeping to a stripped down, low blood sugar food regimen at the moment. Here’s a typical day:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of plain yogurt upon waking
  • 2 eggs around 7:45-8:00 am
  • Snack around 9:00-9:15. I often go for celery with peanut butter here.
  • Snack around 10:30. This is usually a 1/2 cup cottage cheese, maybe sweetened with a bit applesauce (unsweetened).
  • Lunch around noon. This is usually a salad of some variety, often with chicken.
  • Snack around 2:00. This might be half an orange with cheese or some almonds with sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  • Snack around 4:00. This is often an apple with peanut or almond butter.
  • Dinner by 6:30. Usually meat and a vegetable, or salad again.
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of plain yogurt around 10:30-11:00.

I didn’t formulate this plan on my own, I found it in the Low Sugar Handbook. The book is a bit wacky in some ways, but this eating schedule works, as do the food guidelines given in the book.

I’ve also learned that sometimes I need a big injection of sugar quickly. Over the weekend, I went to an intense exercise class early Saturday morning. The rest of the day, I kept throwing food down my throat, but I couldn’t get rid of my feeling of hunger, no matter how much broccoli, peanut butter, and cheese I ate. And this isn’t gurgly-stomach hunger, it’s a full-body, about-t0-be-consumed-by-a-black-hole hunger. It’s hunger triggered entirely by blood chemistry, not the sight or sound of food, and believe me, there is a huge difference. By 4:00, I was shaking and felt like the world was going to end. I actually had to look online to figure out what to do. Two tablespoons of raisins and 15 minutes later, I was feeling better. Now I have a stock of 4 oz apple juice containers that I keep nearby in case of emergencies, and I have a half cup of fruit juice after exercising to prevent the shakes and hunger.

Other Food Stuff

Over the weekend, I made one of those power green vegetable smoothies…and I was so excited about it! Pretty:

Greeneyed monster.

I thought I would love it…but I didn’t. And I really wanted to. But I had to force the last half of it down.

What I do love is quark! No, not the software, this cream-cheesybut-better stuff from Marcoot Jersey Creamery.

Quark. My new favorite thing.

This stuff is amaaaaazing. It is especially good on this quinoa rice bread. I made a loaf of this Sunday afternoon and was enjoying quark on it immensely. But after the recent brown rice debacle, the brown rice flour in the bread is suspect. I will not be eating any more of it, sadly. Instead, I plan to make some rosemary almond meal crackers over the weekend and use the quark on that.

What Else?

The garden is growing, despite the chickens’ best efforts to sabotage it. I am hoping this year will be a bumper year for tomatoes. I’ve yet to have the “OMG I have too many tomatoes!” experience, and I want it desperately.

If you look through all the fencing, netting, and caging, you can see tomato plants. The beds are like maximum security prisons. No one in, no one out.

There's a garden behind all that fencing and netting!

And I have butternut squash in the backyard again! Grow, squash!

Welcome back, butternut!

And welcome to their friends, cucumbers:

First-time cucumber-grower.

Chicken Talk

Agnes is totally blind in one eye, and most likely very low vision in the other, thanks to the other bastard chickens. Seriously, Porkchop and I are considering offing Scout, and maybe Scooter. Scout is the most vicious hen to walk the earth, and Scooter is right there behind her. As they clamber about, they peck Agnes in the eyes.

Is it horrible that we might snuff out Scout and Scooter?

In the meantime, we’ve taken to offering Agnes shelter in the house at night. During the day, she can usually get away from the meanies, but in the coop, she’s a sitting duck (er, chicken). And the other chickens peck-peck-peck away at her head.

This is what things have come to:

Keetah and Agnes: reluctant buddies.

When we put Agnes out in the morning, she stumbles around the yard, bumping into things and walking in circles. It is so sad.

So, Scout and Scooter…who wants dinner?

Triple M Tour Complete!

For the past year or so, I’ve been wanting to do a MMM tour – Milwaukee, Madison, and Minneapolis, that is. My vision came to fruition this past weekend, although in an abbreviated fashion.

Friday afternoon, I flew to Milwaukee, picked up a rental car, and drove to my friend Darcie’s flat. Darcie puts together a lovely home, and I didn’t want to leave once I arrived.

But left we did for Stack’d, where we dined on burgers and delicious fries. After that, we strolled around the Third Ward, and eventually had dessert at Coquette Café. It was Oeufs a la Neige and a rich cream sherry for me, and pistachio and caramel tart with a bourbon for Darcie. Both desserts were delicious.

Saturday morning came too soon, but brought a delightful breakfast of scrambled eggs with goat cheese, oven-roasted potatoes, and sautéed kale. No, we weren’t at a fancy breakfast joint; we were in Darcie’s kitchen!

After checking out an estate sale at a hotel belonging to a notorious Milwaukee crime family and a vegan bake sale (these were separate events), we procured snacks for my upcoming drive to Minneapolis. Yes, Saturday afternoon I trekked across the state and into Minnesota!

It was a long but lovely drive that found me at Katie’s apartment. Yes, I am sad to report that our dear friends Katie and Beth are now Katie. And Beth.

Katie and I caught up during a late dinner at Everest, followed by dessert at Lucia’s. The juxtaposition of daal and asparagus curry with a chocolate custard was kind of odd, but all were tasty.

Sunday morning was breakfast to go from Colossal eaten at Beth’s house. Afterward, Beth and I went on a nature sampler tour of Minneapolis.

We started by touring Lake Calhoun, and then proceeded to an interpretive center near the Mississippi River. A trail from the center led us to a blue heron rookery.

Blue heron nests!

The dark spots atop the trees are nests. If you click the photo, you might be able to see a heron standing guard by some of the nests.

After the rookery, we hit Minnehaha Falls, which is a city park. Here’s a bad photo of it and me:

Lovely waterfall in the city.

At the park we had fish tacos and ice cream and talked about lots of things. When you haven’t seen someone in a year and a half, you have a lot to catch up on.

Later, we ate again at Lake Bryant Bowl, and then it was to bed so that I could get up early and haul myself back to Milwaukee.

Despite the various road construction projects, I made it to Madison early enough to have lunch with another old friend, Carmen! We dined at the Willy Street Coop, which was perfect. Delicious salad bar, and no waiting for a check. My departure time came much too early, as my flight was scheduled for 4:30.

Despite more construction, having to search for a gas station, and the slowest security line ever, I made it to my gate for boarding and had time to pick up an airport souvenir for Porkchop (who doesn’t need a Green Bay Packers can cozy?).

I look forward to another MMM tour, only I hope to stay in each place for a couple days apiece!

Also, while driving across Wisconsin, I affirmed my realization to move back to Wisconsin. Not this year, not next year, and maybe not the three years after that, but someday! What can I say? I love the lakes, the weather, the trees, and the people.

Also

My family’s visit at the beginning of the month went incredibly well, much better than predicted! I also earned As in my classes, and I’m trying to be more positive at work.

I will leave you with a picture of Keetah. While cleaning up one day, Porkchop left a trashbag on the floor and Keetah claimed it as her new home. It’s kind of sad when your cat loves a trashbag. Sad and weird.

Saddest catbed ever.

Hail No!

As I get older, the more leery I become of big storms. While a younger self might have stood outside watching last night’s tremendous tornadic weather goings-on, I parked myself in the basement and listened to the hail pinging on the patio set.

I think the change happened in Madison, when we peered out of the basement window and saw swirling clouds above us, which then touched down a block away.

Anyway…between storms on Saturday, Porkchop finished the alley landscaping project. It looks SO MUCH BETTER:

Rubble pile no more.

Hopefully the phlox and nasturtium will settle in and grow big and pretty. Also, I hope this didn’t wash away during the storms last night – we didn’t check it this morning!

On Sunday, we put in our first garden installation, which you can see in the background here (PS the janky fence is our neighbor’s, not ours):

I am here to eat your food.

The trellis is for sugar snap peas, and later I’ll also plant green beans, black beans, and perhaps a cucumber or two. Under the trellis, I planted spinach and a couple of lettuce mixes. Although I’ve yet to have luck with carrots and beets here, I threw some of that in too. The rest of the bed is reserved for a tomato plant and basil.

What you can’t see is all the bird netting on the bed. If the chickens get any sprouts, I will be rather devastated. I love the chickens, but I don’t like how they’ve stripped the strawberry bed, the blueberry bush, and the rosemary plant. Grumble.

To tame the chickens, maybe we should let Keetah outside with them. This is what happens when Keetah is in the yard:

Chickens standing still. A rarity.

They stand stock-still, on alert for Keetah, that daring predator. Meanwhile, Keetah munches on weeds, which she will later throw up, possibly on our bed.

All for now!

Dirt Party

I’m out from under the conference cloud that was hovering over my work desk for the past few months. All I have to worry about event-wise this month is a lecturer on Friday, and this bigwig next Tuesday (whose honorarium is a full 2/3 of my annual salary!).

Beginning next month, I will be swamped preparing for a conference we’re hosting in China. I don’t get to go, but I do have the joy of doing prep work! The fun started with building registration websites in English and Chinese, and oh, the joy of maintaining two websites! (Fortunately we have a wonderfully capable RA who takes care of the Chinese site.)

But today, I feel terrific. It’s sunny, the air is crisp, and I received a full six hours of uninterrupted sleep last night.

I also had a cup of black tea this morning, and have been energetically unfocused.

However, I have been focused enough to round up neighbors to help me shovel a cubic yard of dirt into my raised beds! The chickens kick dirt out of the beds like nobody’s business, so I need to do a good top-up before planting.

I have shoveling volunteers, and a possible vehicle for transporting the dirt. However, can anyone volunteer a backup pick-up in case the first one doesn’t come through?? You can have fresh eggs and some dirt. And vegetables from the garden (provided it grows!).

Since I last posted, this is the most exciting thing that happened:

Professional.

We purchased new furniture for the computer nook! Our old desk was, well, old. And junky. And stupid. We were also using a dinette chair that I picked up from an antiques mall over 10 years ago. The whole setup was horrible.

The new desk, bookshelf, and chair have done wonders for our self-esteem. Now we have to figure out what to do with our junky file cabinets, but that might have to wait a couple more years.

The old furniture is now upstairs in the guestroom with the old iMac (still functioning after 10 years!). While we hated the furniture when it was downstairs, it offers me a little study area upstairs. I love having study space upstairs. Keetah snoozes in her cat bed while I try not to snooze doing stats reading.

Speaking of Keetah, she is a sucker for stomach rubs:

Keetah paralyzed by rubs. She enjoys it. Really.

Have a great week!

An Honest Day’s Work

Today started out early with Keetah helping Porkchop with grooming:

Grooming Time!

Keetah’s licking is Porkchop’s secret to magnificent hair.

After getting pretty, we went out and bought some seed-starting supplies, such as this little greenhouse shelf:

Ready to grow things!

It isn’t the fanciest or sturdiest, but we needed a way to mount our grow lights, and this fit the bill. Plus, it will be easy to take it outside when it’s time to harden off the plants.

I actually just finished planting tomato, bell pepper, basil, and marigold seeds. The heat mats and greenhouse lids fit perfectly on the new shelving unit. Excellent. This is so much better than growing plants in the bathtub!

After having leftover brisket for lunch (from last night’s dinner – yum), I made snacks for this week:

Cashew and date bar.

This is the DIY version of the Larabar cashew cookie bar, which is one of my favorites. It’s so easy and delicious! You throw a 1/2 cup of raw cashews in the food processor until you have small bits. Dump the cashews in a bowl, and throw 8 oz of dates into the food processor. Process until you have date paste, and a ball forms (this takes a few minutes, and you might have to add a bit of water). Mix the date paste with the nut bits, form into a giant bar, and then cut into individual bars as you wish. Wrap in wax paper and store in an airtight container.

I also made these spiced fruit and nut balls:

Balls. Fruit and nut balls.

I can’t wait to break into these during work tomorrow.

For dinner tonight, I made two options: a tofu chili loosely based on this recipe and yellow tofu curry. Since we don’t have time to cook dinner during the week, we have to cook up a storm on the weekend. I’m exhausted from all the cooking and the clean up this weekend.

(And as I wrote storm, the storm siren started. Now I’m writing from the basement!)

Other Stuff

Twice in the previous week, we’ve had a chicken escape to our neighbor’s backyard via a hole under their fence. It’s always unsettling to realize a chicken is missing. Fortunately, they continue to produce eggs:

Pretty eggs.

Last weekend, Porkchop helped hang the Wisconsin printmakers show she organized! There are about 35 prints, and I wish we didn’t have to send them back to the artists next month!

This is by one of my favorite artists:

Why can't I have this?

And here’s Porkchop among the prints:

Prints. Lots of prints.

If you’re local, come to the artists’ reception! It is March 17, 6-8:00 pm, at the St. Louis Community College – Forest Park gallery (located right outside the library).

Good night!

At Full Production

For the past two days, we’ve been collecting four eggs a day from the nesting box. Know what that means?

Everyone is laying! Even little June Wayne and developmentally delayed Agnes!

Here are some recent chicken shots….

Where there's one...

...another is sure to follow.

Porkchop showing off Scout's glorious comb and wattles.

Turning to our inside pet, we recently put up the Christmas tree, and Keetah is overjoyed to have it back. She loves rubbing her back and tail on the lower “branches” (we have a fake tree, thus the quote marks), and she stakes out the tree skirt as one giant cat bed.

So precious.

Have a great week!