Diabetes recently surged to the top of nutrition writer Brad Lemley’s list of his readers’ main health concerns. It’s no news that overweight, the “standard American diet” and even the American Diabetes Association’s diet, ostensibly designed to prevent or remedy diabetes, pre-diabetes, and/or an overweight problem--well, it does not.  It makes no mention of reducing carbohydrates.

The world we find ourselves in today has thrown most of us into a real quandary.  The fact is that nobody knows what is going to happen next, and most of the options are not that appealing.  It is easy enough to see utter disaster looming.
 

I sat down to write something for this past issue, the first of the year, and there was nothing there. It was not because there was no there there, or that it depended on what one meant by the word “is”, or because a mission was “accomplished” and there was simply nothing more to say.

The alders, the maples, the horse chestnut, and the apple tree have all lost their leaves. This is the time of year I can see some of the sky, though the evergreens still block some of the view.

Though I’m writing this in January, You’ll be reading it in the sweetheart month, February. Everything’s already coming hearts. My grandson, James, did the grocery shopping for me, and brought home something not on the list I gave him. It was half a beef heart, just under eight ounces of super-lean meat, once I’d trimmed off the hard fat on the outside.

We went to court a few weeks ago to have my grandson’s name legally changed from what he was named at birth, when we all thought he was a girl, to the name he has been using the last two years.

Whether we’re in a dangerous situation or simply inconvenienced, it is our level of resourcefulness that determines if and how quickly we resolve the situation.  We in the developed world really don’t need to know much about the places we inhabit or the things we need or use. 

Garlic and shiitake mushrooms are reputed to be the champs at warding off the flu and at  relieving flu symptoms if you’ve already got them. (Mash garlic and sliver soaked shiitaki caps; add to chicken soup.) Also antiviral are basil, oregano,  elderberry, lemon balm, ginger and peppermint. Cinnamon and cloves are antibacterial and antiviral.

So many tears; so much heartache and mourning in 2016. In a malicious parting shot, the final devastating blow was struck in late December of the *Deplorable* Year: Granny (J2) is gone, missing since October.

I don’t know that I have ever really been a fan of anything, in the sense that I have come to understand fandom anyway. I do remember becoming a Smokey the Bear ranger and getting a bunch of stuff from that club, but I don’t remember why.

In case you’ve been procrastinating on your New Year’s resolutions, I have a few suggestions.   This was a tough year, and 2017 looks like it could be worse.  The ball is definitely in our court, and we have to decide whether and how we are going to put it in play.

Today, as I write, December 29, 2016, at 2:20 pm PST, my husband Rick will be gone exactly three years.

People these winter days are either fighting off a cold or the flu, shopping for cold remedies, turning up the heat, or looking back at all those not very healthy Christmas goodies and vowing to restrain themselves in the future as they gargle sore throats and blow their noses. It’s time for grandma’s cold remedy: warming, energizing, flavorful chicken soup!

Last column, I wrote about tribalism being a force that encouraged suspicion and hatred between different racial and ethnic groups.  A friend pointed out that our indigenous people, who call themselves tribes

There is something conflicted in thinking about infinity on the shortest day of the year. I suppose one could say there is something hopeful in it. But with the next delivery of hope balanced on the edge of some event horizon and threatening to disappear down a black hole, I guess hope is a requisite commodity once again..

Dear hearts and gentle people, it is coming on Christmas (if you are like me, you will now have a Joni Mitchell song running through your head), and I have been clobbered by a virus. I’m spending lots of time asleep, which seems to be the best thing.

On Christmas morning seven of the of the eleven people who came for dinner and gift giving on Christmas Eve will be here for breakfast. What could I serve them with the least effort, yet achieve the expected gourmet touch?

We have come to a time when those with racial, ethnic, and sexual biases think that their views have achieved some level of legitimacy.   The only way we can counter that opinion is by showing by sheer numbers how small—hopefully—a minority they really are.  Before we can do that, we should all spend some time confronting our own biases. 

I have been in Vietnam recently- the only reason I am not there now is because I am here writing this. Of course, I did not mean to mislead about my whereabouts- I wasn’t really “in” Vietnam. It is just that I have been immersed in hours of video and photos and listening to stories about one person’s experience of that war- hopefully soon I will be able to share this, but not yet.

This morning the cat gingerly, tenderly, on little cat feet, balanced on top of my radio and inserted his head into the dog biscuit bag, and came out with a dog biscuit in his mouth. He carefully backed off the radio and over to the hutch where I feed him, broke the biscuit up with his teeth, and ate it.

Nobody wants to have to cope with pain in December with all there is to do to get ready for Christmas, or at any other time, really. Two herbal remedies will take the edge off it:  ginger and devil’s claw. Just stir ½ teaspoon of powdered ginger into a cup of herb tea or green tea and sip it

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence…”
            Robert Frost
            Mending Wall

When I was young, I used to wonder why the people of Germany didn’t up and leave during the 1930s, when they saw how things were going in their country. Many of them did leave, but I understand now why many stayed. It was their home. They and their families had lived there for generations.

Cooking the traditional centerpiece of a Thanksgiving meal is easy; the directions come with the bird. But what do you do with the leftover carcass? There’s a lot of good meat on it, well worth the time to cut off that meat and transform it into a big pot pie, or a casserole.