Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Blooming in May

May has flown by, hasn't it? It's one of my favorite months, before summer's heat hits and I melt into a hibernating puddle of misery! Here's a photo of the gardenia bush just a few minutes ago:

It always performs well, but this year it's really blooming its heart out!

Just across the driveway is my long herb bed. It's bursting at the seams. I just added 2 small chamomile plants.

I keep telling myself that I can't put one more thing in that bed.

Here's our back deck, on the north side of the house.

That's a shade sail that we drape over it to make some shade. I believe in the value of impatiens each summer, so I pot lots of them. Here's my little potting area:

Last week we finally -- finally -- after years of staring at it, cut up and removed the Terrible Dead Hot Tub. Now I have an empty place to fill!

Right now I just have some cherry tomatoes in pots, and a struggling lavender. Eventually it will come to me, what I want to have there.

Have any of you spinners ever tried to spin Malabrigo Nube fiber? It's hard! It's soft as silk, and oh-so beautiful, but it's quite compact and difficult to separate and draft out, before spinning. Anyway, I spun up two hanks of it last year, and at last I'm knitting with it. 

It's lumpy and bumpy, but I'm having a go anyway. I'm turning it into a long triangular shawl to go around the neck. Not a big shawl to cover the back, but one designed to hug the neck and shoulders, cross over the chest, and perhaps tie behind. 

I'm alternating between garter stitch and stockinette. It's 100% wool, so it will be warm in winter, and very soft merino around the neck. I'll show you when it's done.

Happy nearly-summer, friends! If you live in the  U.S. South, you know it's pretty much here already, right?

Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Latest Happenings:

 Hi, all. I noticed that Henny Penny posted (twice!) and figured I should come say hello also. 

I've had a busy week. Traveled out of the state for a few days, and then played catch-up for a couple of days ... and then the week is over! I've missed my studio and the quiet creative hours there. The two dogs love to come in too, and sleep under the desk.

I'll post a few photos here, and if I have anything else to say, I'll do that too.

Adam and me:

A painting I did, using a friend's photo as inspiration:

I sewed some bunting for the first time ever! I will do more because it was fun and turned out quite well.
Today I noticed that our gardenia bush is starting to bloom.
Lucy. Sigh! She has not settled down quite yet.
Elderberry bloom heads, from over a week ago. Soon ... berries!
I made this skirt recently from scraps of Batik fabric that a friend gave me. It was a fun project, but I was lucky that it did fit when I was done.

That's all for now! I hope you're having a lovely weekend. We've had spotty, heavy rain today, really soaking the ground. We needed it. Probably the last of the cool weather also.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Intermittent Fasting: 20 Months In

 June 2022: I think this is around the time that I discovered that my AIC levels were high -- creeping above 6.0. At this time I decided to cut sugar out of my diet, and make some reasonable attempt to curb my bad carbohydrate intake. I cut out sweets, desserts, and ice cream. I'd stopped drinking sodas several years before. I didn't think it was doable to stop eating carbs altogether, but I switched to wheat bread with zero added sugars. Otherwise, however, I did not change my eating. I continued to have breakfast as soon as I got up in the morning, and I usually had a snack of popcorn in the evenings.

September, 2022: My AIC was 6.3. My doctor informed me that my diet changes were not working. She strongly advised me to start on pre-diabetic medications. I did not want to do this. I asked for more time.

Previously, Adam had used intermittent fasting for weight loss in 2014 with very good success. He did long fasts -- 2 or 3 days. It didn't last, and when he stopped fasting, he regained the weight. But intermittent fasting stuck in my mind. Adam had read Dr. Jason Fung's book and watched his videos on Youtube. Fung is a real doctor, a kidney specialist, from Toronto. He did not seem like a quack, and he'd had good success getting his obese patients to lose weight and regain health with intermittent fasting.

I've never found weight-loss to be a sufficient motivator for dieting, much less fasting. But avoiding daily diabetic medications? Metformin? Insulin injections? Finger pricks? YIKES! I'd watched my daddy battle that for 50 years, and I was determined -- very determined -- to avoid that road if I could. I resisted my doctor, who called intermittent fasting a "crazy diet." I started intermittent fasting in September, 2022. That was 20 months ago.

First, weight loss. I lost a little over 30 pounds and have kept it off. That's nice, but wasn't my goal.

Second, intermittent fasting is not easy. It requires a significant change to how most Americans eat -- WHEN we eat. We're used to focusing on WHAT we eat (which is also important, of course), but our attitude to our eating schedule is: when you want to eat, eat.

December, 2022: My AIC was 6.2.

July, 2023: My AIC was 6.1. The reversal of my pre-diabetes was slow, but it was happening!

I do a 16 hour fast every day. I eat dinner at about 4:00 pm, and I don't have anything except water until about 8:00 am the next morning. I'm not perfectly consistent, I occasionally cheat, but not often, and if I do jump off-wagon over a holiday or a vacation, I immediately resume my schedule when I get back home.

Third, no you're not hungry. I thought I was starving at first. I desperately wanted snacks in the evening. I craved chocolate. I wanted to put something in my mouth. But it's all in the mind, and not in the stomach. After about a year of intermittent fasting, I no longer craved anything, and I no longer wanted food outside of my eating window. I remind myself, during my eating window, to eat! Enjoy food! I still don't eat sweets, but I do enjoy carbs and other things. I don't crave sweets much at all. I eat more fruit than I used to. 

Then, during my fasting window, I remind myself that my body is healing, it's getting rid of all those calories and quieting the sugar down. Now, when I'm fasting, I feel very good. I don't want big meals. I never want to stuff myself. Fasting really does make your body -- your gut especially -- feel good.

January, 2024: My AIC was 6.2 again, and my doctor is not pleased. However, that was after Thanksgiving and Christmas, traveling and celebrating. I'm not too worried.

I know I can control my AIC with intermittent fasting. I know I can successfully do fasting for the rest of my life without much trouble. It feels normal now to eat on this schedule. If, one evening, I can't eat dinner early and I eat at 6:00 pm, then the next morning I delay breakfast until 10:00 am. It's not that hard. I just had to overcome my mindset about eating whenever I wanted. 

I can't guarantee success for anybody else, but I can recommend that you read and research for yourself. It takes commitment, probably a commitment for the rest of your life. That's hard. But I know that diabetic meds are rough on the body, and I want to be healthy, not medicated -- if possible.