Archive for Retirement

Mexican Hat

Mexican Hat Rock Formation

Our route from Monument Valley to Moab through Utah today, took us past the Mexican Hat rock formation just north of the San Juan River and the town bearing the Mexican Hat name. I snapped this image from the motorhome as we drove past the famous formation along US Hwy 163. Click on the image to enlarge.

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On the Road Again

Posing at Monument Valley

Verna and I are currently staying in an RV park at Monument Valley, UT. We were in Flagstaff last night and drove here today through some very scenic and beautiful country.

We took photos of each other and I combined them into the single image above showing part of the campground and some of the red rock walls surrounding us. Click on either image to enlarge.

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Lifestyle Change - Revised Eating Habits

keto.pngLast year, we both had our annual check-up with the family physician. After our exams, he ordered some lab work, mainly phlebotomy (blood work). Within a few days, Verna got a call from their office advising that her tests had come back showing her to be in pre-diabetes (type 2) with high triglycerides. My results weren’t all that too hot either, with the usual (for me) high cholesterol and other chronic problems showing up (kidney, hypertension, etc.). The doctor recommended a low-sugar (i.e. low carbohydrate) diet for her.

The pre-diabetes condition was something that immediately needed attention. We searched for and found a volume on KETO pre-diabetic recipes that went a step further than food prep and described how a body typically could reverse the diabetic trend by eliminating most high-in-carbohydrates foods. After reading up on some of the science behind the recovery process, we both decided to adapt our food preparation and consumption habits. Verna to try and slow down the diabetes potential and me to try and lose some of the fifteen or so extra pounds.

The first step was to purge from the pantry any and all items that were on an IMMENSE list of high carb no-nos. After filling up four good sized cardboard boxes of goodies headed out to the local food bank, we dutifully delivered them never to see the likes of those items in our pantry again. The list included rice, pasta, legumes, peas, corn, carrots, wheat flour, cornbread mix, pancake mix and so forth, most of which would regularly be included in our home-prepared meals.

We quickly adapted to the change and found many delicious recipes for low carb meals. There is plenty of on-line help on the food topic out there including Diet Doctor, plus there are cookbooks galore including many by TV Chef George Stella whose variety and clever substitutions for hi-carb goodies is a very good thing.

Early this year, after being on the new feeding arrangement for a few months, we saw the family doctor again. He prescribed follow-up testing to see how we were doing. When the test results came back, Verna showed a definite drop in the triglycerides and other lipids that were now essentially normal. I did not see her A1C number, but the verbal report indicated it was now normal.

Verna has lost a few pounds since the onset of the low-carb regimen, but more importantly, she is now in the green arc.

Me, on the other hand, I am now back to my high-school weight, having lost about 25 pounds. My weight is now stable and is normal for my height and build. I have now backed off of my blood pressure meds to about ⅓ of the previous dosage. I visited the kidney specialist and was advised that my marginal function had improved from 60 percent efficient to 80, which is fairly normal for my age (just turned 76 this week). My lipid numbers are all normal except for a high HDL cholesterol reading (a GOOD thing) and a low risk for cardio-vascular problems (a VERY GOOD thing).

The following excerpt* from one of our several books on the topic describes how we are neither starving nor craving these days:

MAINTAINING A LOW-CARB, HIGH-FAT DIET is beneficial for weight loss. Most importantly, according to an increasing number of studies, it helps reduce risk factors for diabetes, heart diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and more. The keto diet promotes fresh whole foods like meat, fish, veggies, and healthy fats and oils, and greatly reduces processed, chemically treated foods. It’s a diet that you can sustain long-term and enjoy. What’s not to enjoy about a diet that encourages eating bacon and eggs for breakfast!

Studies consistently show that a keto diet helps people lose more weight, improve energy levels throughout the day, and stay satiated longer. The increased satiety and improved energy levels are attributed to most of the calories coming from fat, which is very slow to digest and calorically dense. As a result, keto dieters commonly consume fewer calories because they’re satiated longer and don’t feel the need to eat as much or as often.

* Ramos, Amy. The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: Your Essential Guide to Living the Keto Lifestyle (p. 13). Rockridge Press. Kindle Edition.

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VernaBob Blog Now 13 Years Old

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It has been quite a long time since we first acquired the vernabob.com domain, so it’s not one of those suddenly we’re thirteen sort of days. In fact, we probably have had that domain name for nearly twenty years, but only started the Wordpress© blog thirteen years ago today. I have the archives from the old websites on some media somewhere, but don’t really intend to revive any of them anytime soon, if ever.

Now that we’re retired and living in our lovely desert casita, we don’t blog as much as in the past. Social media and smart phone messaging keep us in touch with family and friends and let them know what we’re up to and can mutually know what they’re doing as well.

We intend to keep posting here for posterity (it is an online diary, after all) when the events or whims of the day seem like something we want to share or put in the blog for storage. Some photos Verna or I take are too good to not share in a couple of places, for example. We also plan to travel some and that activity ought to be recorded.

So we will be here sporadically until next year when we will post about the fourteenth blogaversary.

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Learning the Largo

Largo Bridge Music

For the past couple of weeks, I have been studying and practicing on the keyboard a small part of the score from the Opera Xerxes by G.F. Handel. The excerpt above has been transposed to the key of C major which is easier for me and my arthritic old fingers to perform as I learn the fingering and tempo.

The piece I’m learning is the bridge music between the recitative Frondi Tenere (Branches Tender and Beautiful) and the aria Ombra Mai Fu (A Shadow There Never Was) both of which are sung by the title character Xerxes of Persia. The piece is only fifteen measures in length and can be executed in about 35 to 40 seconds but the fingering and tempo are a little challenging to me. I’m sure I will get it down soon, but in the meantime, I’m still practicing.

Handel’s Largo, as it is popularly known, is actually a Larghetto tempo, slightly faster than Largo. The opera was designed to be a comedy with Xerxes, a Persian King, falling in love with a Plane Tree. Regardless of the original intent, the interlude above along with the aria Ombra Mai Fu is not only one of the most beautiful compositions in classical music, but has also been adapted with lyrics and performed as “Holy Art Thou” in Christian Churches.

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Local Mountains Snow

Local Mountains Snow

Since last Wednesday, we have had colder temperatures in our area. Just five years ago on this date, we were wearing shorts, but not this year. Both of us got new winter jackets just to keep warm here in “Dry Heat” Arizona. LOL

I took this photo today of to Weaver mountain range just fifteen miles north of town. The mountains have a nice coat of snow, but it won’t last very long since this is Arizona and the weather will undoubtedly become more spring like over the next few days.

As I said, we have had some unusually cold (even for winter) days. Our neighbor, who teaches school in nearby Congress came home early a couple of days ago and reported a foot of snow had closed her school for the day. Her car was caked with still fresh snow when she drove into the area.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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Live Tree Ornaments

Goldfinch Cardinal

We had one of our spring-like winter days today with mostly clear skies and warmish (not as warm as we like) temperatures. While eating breakfast we could see the birds frequenting the feeders on the little hill behind the RV driveway.

I speculated that some of the birds would hang around after breakfast, so I headed out there with my camera and 300mm zoom lens. I managed to get several shots of the little flying critters including the two above. On the left is a goldfinch and on the right is a cardinal, both males of their respective species. They were both briefly “decorations” on the mesquite tree up there. Click on either image to enlarge.

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