keeping abreast of the issue…

I simply don’t have the strength to have this conversation with each and every one of you, so I hope this blog suffices…

So, about 3 weeks ago, I started having bloody discharge from my right nipple.  Needless to say, this was quite disconcerting.  When it happened a second time I went in and had it checked out.  Actually when I called to make an appointment they got me in the same day because it’s apparently a big deal.

I had to get a mammogram done, and then had to wait an agonizingly long time to get an appointment to review the results.

During that time, I came face to face with an old enemy – overwhelming anxiety and panic.  There was a time in the not too distant past that I was unable to leave the house because of my anxiety.  I worked hard to learn coping mechanisms and to get off all medication in that regard.  Sure there are still times when things get dicey (I’m looking at you Toy Story Mania line), but for the most time it’s under control.

The last 3 weeks or so, not so much.  I’ve lost family to cancer. I have family with breast cancer issues, even today.  I don’t think there is a woman in the world who doesn’t worry at one point or another about breast cancer.  So, when I was slapped in the face with breast health issues, all of that progress I’d made in regards to Panic Disorder made a major backslide.  I’ve missed class because I found myself in the car suddenly crying, and unable to stop.

I couldn’t help but think back to 2010 when it was found that I had a fibroadenoma in my left breast.  That mass was benign, but I couldn’t help but wonder how many times I could test fate and win.  I know that everything is in God’s hand… but I didn’t want to push it.

So today, finally, I went in to meet with the “breast specialist,” a surgeon. He looked at all of my info, including the fibroadenoma.  He did a breast exam, and fortunately saw the bloody discharge for himself.  After looking everything over he said that I definitely had a mass in my breast that was intruding into at least one, possibly many, ducts.  He is hopeful that it is a papilloma.  His statement was, “they aren’t always cancerous.”

here’s a link to a page explaining all about papillomas, in case you are ultra-interested.  It also shows a great photo of a ductogram, which I will have done soon.

http://www.breast-cancer.ca/type/papilloma.htm

Here’s my shorter description.  A papilloma (NOT related to the HPV, by the way) is a tumor that grows like a tree, with branches growing out in many directions.  It starts in one duct, but with those branches growing out, it can quickly impact multiple ducts.  They can be benign or cancerous.

There’s no guarantee that it is a papilloma, it could be anything.

The next step is getting a specialized ultrasound and a ductogram to try to determine exactly which ducts are being affected.  He wants to remove as few ducts as possible, while ensuring that the entire mass is removed.

Regardless of what it is, it has to be removed.

Once it’s out they will do a biopsy and only then will we know for sure if it is cancerous, and what steps we would have to take from there.

Honestly, the weight of all of this is overwhelming.  Some of you know some of the struggles Justin and I have faced in the past year.  A few of you know ALL of them.  I am thankful every day that I have been so blessed to have Justin beside me.  I honestly don’t know what I’d do without him.

Of course I will update everyone as things progress.

book review: Fading Light… an anthology of the monsterous

I received an advanced ebook copy of this anthology from my good friend Jake Elliot, who has a story featured in it. The ebook version is great, because you get an extra group of stories not featured in the hard copy edition (which I will also be purchasing).

Rather than individually review each story, I’d like to comment on the overall experience of reading the anthology. This is great horror writing. In my opinion, too many horror movies and books now-a-days are nothing but a bunch of pointless blood and gore packaged together with flat, idiotic, one dimensional characters who walk blindly from attack to attack.

What makes this great writing, in my humble opinion, is that these stories look into the dark side of human nature. Sure there are monsters: krakens, aliens, zombies, black water from the center of the moon, spirits kidnapped from the center of the sun, huge whale-like angels… but these stories are about humanity. The overreaching theme is the loss of the sun, the earth being plunged into darkness, and what emerges from that perpetual midnight. More often than not the real monster is inside of us.

The greatest compliment I can give all the writers in Fading Light is this… time after time while reading my mind went back to one of the first Ray Bradbury stories I ever read… “All Summer In A Day.” A colony of humans live on Mars, where the sun shines for a half hour every 7 years. At school a girl, Margot, remembers the sun because she moved from earth only 5 years ago. The other kids are hateful bullies and lock Margot in a closet, causing her to miss the sun because they were jealous of her previous experience. As a kid, this was my first reading experience highlighting the dark, monstrous side of humanity…

Fading Light echoed my Bradbury experience in the best way possible. This is a talented group of authors, some well established and some up-and-coming. I highly recommend this anthology to not only fans of horror, but to fans of quality, thought-provoking writing.
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“Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us” Oscar Wilde

This memory brightens o’er the past; as when the sun, concealed; behind some cloud that near us hangs; shines on a distant field. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Feb 2 was my grandma Lois’ birthday. She was born in 2/2/22! She’s been gone for a number of years now – and it’s about time she had some sort of tribute. It’s always been my dream to donate a bench (or actually, the money for a bench) to the San Diego Zoo in memory of both of my grandparents. They took me, my sister, and my cousin there so often as kids. Whenever we stayed at their house (in San Diego, obviously) they would ask us, “well girls, where would you like to go today?” and we would always reply, “Disneyland!” My grandpa would retort, “how about somewhere closer?” and our answer was, “The ZOO!” He would drive us there in their giant old people car (A Lincoln Towncar, or Buick Skylark, or the like) wearing his giant old man sunglasses over his regular glasses, tapping the steering wheel in rhythm to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”  But I digress; this is about my grandma.

My Grandma Lois was the Quintessential Scots-Irish. She was extremely cheap (er, frugal), never spending an extra dime on anything, especially herself. My grandpa would always buy things for her. He knew her size, and would see an outfit in the window of a store (usually Petite Sophisticate, as Grandma Lois was both petite and sophisticated) and he would just buy the entire outfit in her size. She would save the smallest smidgen of butter, the tiniest swallow of orange juice. Once, we all cleaned out the refrigerator (in, say, 1995) and found cream cheese from 1989! Yikes.

She was also stubborn as a mule. She stuck to her convictions no matter what. When she was dedicated to a cause, you knew it could never fail. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Grandma Lois was classy. She took her martini’s extra dry. I heard her use exactly one swear word EVER. She would usually say, “oh gadfry!” instead. My grandpa was quite the rogue, in more ways than one, and she kept him pretty well in line.

During car rides she and my grandpa would sing “old mill stream” in perfect harmony.  It was adorable.

To most people, Grandma Lois seemed small, weak, maybe even fragile. She was kind and loving and quiet, and people saw that as weakness.  They thought my Grandpa ran all over her. But, in reality, she ran the show exactly how she wanted. She had an incredibly tough life growing up. Her grandfather rode with Jesse James’ gang, her dad was named Jesse James Cain after the man. Her mom died when she was 2, when her sister was born. She had THE actual evil stepmother. Lois worked in a drugstore as a young lady. My grandpa followed her home, and actually became a little stalker-ish. He plotted and planned and broke up the relationship she was in, so he could win her for himself.

A marriage, a World War, 4 kids and 4 grandkids later, Lois Mansfield was a 5 foot tall, 90 pound rod of steel. She knew how to pick her battles. She’d put up with my grandpa’s hi-jinks until something that was important to her came along, and then she’d put her foot down, and it wouldn’t budge.

She loved hummingbirds and things that grew. We would play “Jungle” in their back yard, it was always chock full of greenery and flowers; passion vines, bougainvillaea, and the like . She could grow African violets like nobody’s business. She did my uncle’s laundry for him until the day she couldn’t get out of bed. Her kitchen, indeed, her entire home was always spotless. Her pantry was organized, even when there was no company.

Blinded in one eye at the age of 6 (some rotten kid threw sand in her eye) she always hated driving. She would walk to Vons’ every day to get groceries and to get out of the house. She had her hair done every other week. When she got cancer and lost her hair she had the best wig I’ve ever seen.

I don’t think it was the cancer that finally did her in. I think it was the idea of losing her pride, and her dignity. She hated having to be in a hospital bed in the living room. Not being able to walk, to get out into the world; that was her undoing.

Having people wait on her, fix her food in her own kitchen, not being able to get up and about; that was unbearable for her. She may have been diagnosed with Kidney Cancer, but she left this world on her own terms. She never wanted to be beholden to anyone, to put anyone out.

Whenever I see violets, smell lavender, or spy a hummingbird hovering in the air, I know she’s there, watching out for us.  With all the joy and love in my life right now, I miss her more than ever.  Lois Fay Cain Mansfield. She was one tough cookie. I’m proud to have her middle name.

 

 

 

evil Canadian conspiracy, or just stupid, gullible Americans?

this is a rebooted repost from july, 2010 about the evils of canola oil…

as someone who tries to eat at least somewhat healthfully (as we all should), one major question me and mine have run across is which cooking oil is best to use.  olive oil has been used for thousands of years, but it is difficult to use for stir fries and the like because of its distinct taste and low smoke point.

so, i  decided to conduct some research and find out which oils are the best, and, the worst.  upon beginning said research, i was overwhelmed with information on canola.  i was already aware of some of the negatives in this widely used product, but i discovered some even more disturbing information.

so brave reader, behold… The Truth About canola…

all oils are made of pure fat, but not all fats are created equal.  in this day and age i’d hope that everyone knows that monounsatrated fats are the best for us, these are found in oils such as olive oil.  they are heart healthy, and do not contribute to high, or  “bad” cholesterol.  also well known is the fact that trans fats are bad.  these can be carcinogenic (cancer causing), and contribute to heart problems.

there are a few ways to get oil from seeds, beans, olives, etc.  the cold press method is just that, a giant press that squeezes the oil from the product.  no heat is applied in this method, so none of the oil molecules are damaged or transformed.  olives are easy to obtain oil from, and is an example of a cold pressed oil, so are walnut and avocado oils.  items more difficult to press, sunflowers for example, are processed in giant cranks that chew up the product until the oil is released.  This is the expeller method, and it also requires no heat.  Finally there are refined oils.  items like soybeans and rapeseeds (which become canola oil) are so difficult to extract oil from must be chemically changed.  high heat is involved, and then various chemical solvents are added to remove the oil from the seed.  the oil becomes instantly rancid because of the exposure to high heat, so deodorizers are added to mask the smell.  the oils are also bleached and have anti-foaming agents added in.  by the end of the process, these oils are pale, clear, have no smell or flavor,  have no health benefits, and may actually be dangerous.  because they are so processed, they have  very high smoke point, and are therefore popular in the restaurant and fast food industries for frying.

But now onto canola.

First off, there is no canola plant.  canola oil is derived from a genetically manipulated rapeseed.  The rapeseed is actually a toxic member of the mustard family.  mustard gas, used during WWI was made from the rapeseed plant.  in order to make this toxic plant edible it must be genetically modified.  The levels of erucic acid must be reduced.  one way to accomplish this is through irradiation, another is to genetically implant another plant’s genes into the rapeseed plant.  either way, the canola plant does not exist in nature.
in addition to genetic modification, saturated fats must be added to the rapeseed oil.  the end result is 60% monounsaturated fat and 10% Omega 3 fatty acids, which on the surface seems good.

throughout North America in the 1970’s, polyunsaturated fats were being promoted, despite the fact that more and more scientific evidence was pointed towards the fats being linked with increasing cancer rates.  ideally, the push should have been toward known healthy monounsaturated fats, like those in olive oil, however, supplies were limited, and it would have been very costly for wide manufacturing into salad dressings and (ewww) margarine.

instead of pushing healthy oils or focusing on a way to lessen use of herbicides and lowering fuel costs, research was done to transform the toxic rapeseed into a marketable oil.  because of it’s toxic nature, insects naturally avoid the rapeseed plant.  farmers found this wonderful.  Baldu Stefanson of the University of Manitoba is given credit as the first to successfully engineer the plant that would become canola oil.

the oil resulting from the modified rapeseed plant was originally called LEAR (Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed).  marketing a product containing the words Rape and LEAR proved difficult, and the name was changed to Canola (CANadian Oil, Low Acid), the term was coined in 1978.  Today canola is Canada’s largest export.

canola was further genetically modified to increase the content of the monounsaturated Oleic acid, which is naturally and abundantly found in olive oil.

In 1995 the infamous Monsanto (don’t know about Monsanto?  Watch “Food Inc.” and you’ll never look at corn or soy the same way again….. seriously, watch it!) got involved and created a strain of rapeseed/canola that is resistant to RoundUp (also created by Monsanto).  Today over 82% of canola crops are genetically modified by Monsanto.
In April of 1997 Monsanto was forced to recall over 60,000 bags of genetically modified canola seeds.  an unapproved gene had slipped into the seeds by mistake, one that was not approved for human consumption.  i find it terrifying that these extra genes are just lying around, and are able to be engineered into foodstuffs.  the seeds in the recall were enough to plant over 700,000 acres of crops.

Canada began marketing canola to the U.S. in the 1980’s.  In order to be sold in stores, canola had to be granted GRAS (generally regarded as safe) status from the FDA.  Food and herb products labeled GRAS are generally products that have been used for hundreds of years with no adverse side effects reported.  Canola, however, was a brand new product, that did not exist naturally, and that was made from a plant known to be toxic.  How was canola granted GRAS status so quickly?  No one knows for sure, but it is widely rumored that the Canadian government spent $50 million US on its canola campaign.  once in the US market, Canola spread to world wide use by the 1990’s.

Canada’s publicity campaign did not target the general public, but selectively advertised to the science and health care industries.  Due to it’s high monounsaturated fat and omega 3 content, nutritionists began suggesting it to their patients.  books like The Omega Plan and the zone diet pushed the use of canola.  Even Andrew Weil was tricked by the canola propaganda for a while.

In my mind, in addition to the problems i have with ALL genetically modified foods, there are 3 major problems with canola oil.  These are the traditional uses for rapeseed oil, the changes that take place in the oil during the refining process, and the negative effects that have appeared in experiments with canola oil.

rapeseed oil was originally used as a lubricant in the shipping industry.  rapeseed/canola oils are also (still) used as lubricants, fuels, soap, synthetic rubber bases, and the slick finish on magazine pages.  Maybe it’s just me, but it seems creepy to eat something that is was originally used to lubricate ship parts.

the oil refining process described here is not exclusive to canola oil.  It is used for many, including safflower and soy.  These are generally sold as “vegetable oil.”  most oil is refined with strong acids, and with the same base used in products to unclog drains.  the oil is heated to a very high temperature, which cause the omega 3 fatty acids present to be either destroyed or mutated into trans fats.  the oil then enters a bleaching process which, according to Udo Erasmus, “removes every essential nutrient except fatty acids.”  because the oil has been turned rancid by the heat applied earlier, it undergoes a deodorization process to mask the rancid smell.  This is done through steam distillation, and the heat applied here transforms even more fatty acids into trans-fatty acids, which interfere with any beneficial ingredients that might still be around.  lastly, when the finished oil is used for cooking, either at home or in a restaurant setting, even more trans fats may be created if the oil is heated to its smoking point.

the crux of this matter is that canola oil is advertised as the “best oil” to use because of its high percentage of monounsaturated fats and omega 3’s.  in fact, the vast majority of these ingredients are destroyed during the refining process, AND, many of those once healthy ingredients are transformed into cancer causing agents.

canola has only existed for 30 years, nothing is yet known about the long term effects this man-made product has on us, as humans.  no human trials were conducted before canola oil was released for sale.  the animal trials i will discuss were conducted after the oil’s release, and are still being done (my personal views against animal testing notwithstanding, some pretty terrible things have happened in the name of canola oil).

soon after the creation of canola, a study showed that rats developed more heart lesions when being fed canola and flaxseed oils than on olive and sunflower oils.  once the rats were no longer forced to eat the canola the lesions went away, but severe scarring remained.

in 1997 a study involving piglets (poor baby pigs) resulted in the piglets developing severe vitamin E deficiencies when fed food with canola in it, despite the fact that the piglets were given an adequate amount of vitamin E.  the study continued into 1998 as the same piglets suffered decreased platelet counts and increased platelet size.  When cut (again, animal testing is BAD), the piglets bled longer than they should have.

as for humans, canola consumption has been linked to vitamin E deficiency and growth retardation.  for this reason the FDA has banned canola us in infant formula.  canola can also cause a latex-like substance that have caused red blood corpuscles to clump together.  canola can also deteriorate mylien sheaths (the coating around nerve cells) possibly leading to nervous disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

so, overall, canola would seem to be a bad thing.  i stopped using canola a while ago, and i didn’t even know a lot of these things.

so which oil is best to fry or saute with?  you can actually fry with olive oil, just watch the temperature of the oil.  if you really need a high smoke point, i usually go for sunflower or grapeseed oil.

As always, thanks for stopping by.
sources used in this blog:

Carol Clark Keppler
Alton Brown
Tom Valentine
Toby Maloney
Udo Erasmus (his 1988 pamphlet “Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill”)
Richard Seah
Dr. Mary Enig (her cleverly titled article “The Great Con-ola”

a scandal of epic poop-portions!

a bit of background info on me and my beliefs before i get to the scandal of today….

i don’t spend money on things i don’t need. i don’t replace things just because a newer, shinier version comes out. i still have the same radio alarm clock i received for christmas in 1986. it still works, so why would i buy a new one. my living room furniture is over 11 years old. sure it’s getting a bit saggy, but i’m not going to go into debt to get brand new… i trade clothes with my cousin and sister so that we don’t all have to go out and get new things. and when i do get new things, they are always on sale.

i reuse and re-purpose like a madman….

i make, rather than buy gifts for people. or i’ll donate in someone’s name. justin had an orangutan adopted in his name for christmas this year, and my nephew is the proud adoptive parent of a manatee named Ariel.

i do my part to protect the environment. instead of paper or plastic i always bring reusable grocery bags. i’ll only buy produce and juice grown and manufactured only in america. i do this for several reasons… the amount of fossil fuel and the negative carbon impact on the environment created by shipping fruit and vegetables from chile, brazil, and the like is ridiculous. pesticides like the detrimental DDT are still used in other countries,  even “organic” produce from mexico has been found to contain DDT. i try to buy from farmers markets and smaller neighborhood markets rather than giant mega-marts when i can. i buy eggs from my high school friend who’s kids are in 4H. this supports local farmers/growers, it reduces shipping and manufacturing waste, and they are darn good eggs. I’d much rather buy some not certified organic carrots from a local farm than certified organic trucked in from another country. if that means i rarely get to eat bananas or mangos, so be it. it took a while for justin to join me on this soapbox, and sometimes i think he’s just standing there to be supportive, but he does always make sure we have our bags when we go to the market.

 

anyhow…. justin and i have our amazing dog gatsby. because we live in an apartment, we, as responsible pet owners clean up after gatsby when he does his ‘business’ in the morning. (in all honesty – it’s justin who takes the gatz down 99% of the time… he’s swell like that). unlike the other dog owners who live here, we always have ‘poop bags,’ which help keep dogs, kids, grown ups healthy. there’s nothing worse than walking to get the mail and having to avoid strange dog poop.

i’ve been buying biodegradable poop bags, because if poop is bagged up in old plastic grocery bags, or even regular plastic poop bags it sits around in the landfills for eternity, as plastic does not biodegrade… which isn’t good for anyone.

the brand i’ve been buying, bio bag usa touts itself as being 100% compostable, made from 100% GMO free corn. (i’ll deal with the GMO issue in a later blog)… here’s their spiel…
BioBag USA 100% Compostable Bags On A Roll Dog Waste Bags – Dog Poop Bags from petco.com

Picking up after your pet is part of being a responsible pet owner. We are constantly amazed when pet owners put 100% biodegradable and 100% compostable dog waste into plastic bags that can take over 100 years to decompose. Now owners have a logical solution… BioBag Dog Waste Bags. BioBag USA 100% Compostable Bags On A Roll fit most standard waste bag dispensers. Made with GMO-Free Corn and contains no Polyethylene. These dog poop bags meet California Law SB1749 for Compostable Product Claims.

so today i went to buy dog food and poop bags (the before and the after i suppose) and they were out of the ‘biodegradable’ bags. i ask the petco girl and she tells me that they were all recalled because the company admitted that they WERE NOT and NEVER HAD BEEN biodegradable!

i’ve been spending more on these bags just because they were biodegradable… now i find out that not only have i been spending extra money, i’ve been inadvertently tossing extra plastic into the local landfills, filled with dog poop that’s just going to hang out for hundreds of years in these plastic bags! i was livid!

i haven’t been able to find anything else out, what with the internet fighting against censorship and all, but trust me, i will get to the bottom of this.

it takes a lot to make me angry – but you did it bio bag usa! you are now on my ‘you will rue the day’ list

new year, new blog, same candice

hello reader,

 

just a quick first blog before i launch into the forthcoming rant for today.  this is not my first blog, i’m hoping this one will sustain for more than a little while.  while most of my posts will be new, i’m planning on reposting some of my old favorites from former blog sites.

 

a word about the title of this blog.  the word ‘grok’ is from one of my very favorite books, robert heinlein’s stranger in a strange land.  to grok  means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed. read the book – it’s amazing.

 

i believe that we all need to work to ‘grok’ the world around us, and the people in that world.  we don’t have to like everyone and everything, or agree with any of  it, but we all need to work on understanding.  too often people put up walls and blinders, they’ve decided whether they like something or not before they even know what it is.  too many people’s choices are based on what one’s family, friends, favorite tv show, or favorite celebrity likes and believes, i thinks that’s a load of crap.  people need to wake the hell up and open their own eyes and make their own decisions.  the world would be a more enlightened place.

 

like my (step) dad used to tell us, “you can’t know if you like or dislike a new food unless you actually try it.”  my baby sister tried to call me out on this once, she’s a fan of the jersey shore.  i called her bluff and actually sat down for (a very painful) five minutes before i could state with authority that yes, indeed, the show was an insult to everything i believed in and that i truly felt less intelligent having wasted those five minutes watching it.

 

my suggestion?  open a book – preferably not the one “written” (and i do use that term loosely) by snooki….