ALL THAT IS NEW….by Beth Rankin

ALL THAT IS NEW….by Beth Rankin

BETH RANKIN

Yesterday I realized that I have not written anything on this blog for about a month. Just now “what” to write hit me, thanks to a conversation on Facebook. No, for a change, this will NOT be about politics.

It is about my new life as a pothead. Well, actually not quite a pothead. One of my Oregon friends thinks I may be the only cannabis user in Oregon who is not driving under the influence. This may (does) have its pleasurable effects, but this is not a recreational activity for me.

I was a senior in high school when someone close to me (who will remain nameless and blameless) introduced me to weed. That definitely was recreational.

In college the drug of choice was booze and that was illegal enough thank you. But I was an RA and would knock on the doors of the rooms where smoking was obviously happening and instruct them on how to use a wet towel. That was definitely pro-user activity.

In the late-1970s I lived in a city in the South and a friend invited me to his family’s home to watch Superman when it was first shown on HBO. He lit up a joint and offered it to me. I enjoyed the show and I don’t remember if I was uncomfortable driving home after, but since there is no memory about it, it must have been fine.

In the mid-1980s a friend a I went on a weekend getaway to her family’s vacation home in New England without any husbands or kids. Another friend handed me a small gift, as it was my birthday and told me to open it when we got to our destination. Inside a Sucrets lozenge box, several joints. It was a chocolate weekend.

That is not all, but the gist of my prior life with pot. Not regular at all. Never enjoyed when responsible sobriety was needed. Definitely recreational. 

Since then I heard sometimes that people with cancer smoked marijuana and it helped. It helped with nausea was one thing and when we were dealing with nausea from chemo issues in the 1990s, the meds the doctor gave took care of it, so no need to search out the underground market…probably available next door, right?

And then we moved to Oregon and they already had medicinal cannabis. The dispensaries were established and things were regulated. The referendum for recreational use passed with 56% of the votes. I suspect there were as many “yes” votes among the Baby Boomers as there were in the Millennials.

The legal requirements for legal grow operations, laboratories for testing, kitchens for preparing edibles, and shops for selling had to be worked out, so it took over a year after the law was passed before the recreational shops were open.

Today, some shops sell only recreational pot. Some sell only to people who have medical cannabis cards. Some sell both rec and medical. The medical side has different record-keeping to meet the legal requirements of that early law. I prefer to go to a dispensary that sells both as I am, at this point in my life, using the cannabis to help a medical condition.

 

 

I have not asked my doctor for a medical card. It is at least a 3-step process including an appointment with another doctor and can cost $800 altogether for people like me (not a veteran, on disability and elderly–I’m too young. LOL) The benefit: no sales tax. In Oregon we do not have a sales tax…except on recreational marijuana. (It probably was THIS benefit to the state financial coffers that convinced the “weed is evil” side to vote yes. After all, they can enjoy thinking the stoners are paying for their sin.)

Since I do not use a lot of pot over the year a card would be valid, I did not think the little bit of additional in tax would offset the fees.

 

 

So when I realized the last bit of canna butter was used up, it was time to go purchase something. Asking three different friends which dispensary they preferred gave me three places to check out. (There are about eight within ten miles, but only one state-run liquor store. The dispensaries were not really busy while that liquor store is always crowded.)

Anyone my age who purchased weed in the 70s and the early 80s purchased a sandwich bag (ounce) for $10. The pot in late 1970 was $40 for the baggie and was a strain known as Acapulco Gold. The baggies had leaf, stems, and generally some seeds.

Now you can buy seeds, you can buy bud, sometimes you can buy leaf (shake), you can buy pre-rolls. You can buy extract, you can buy creams and salves. You can buy candy. You can buy infused products like tea or oil. The bud is the most popular. The strains sell for about $200-400 an ounce (that sandwich baggie) so most people buy a few grams, sort of like heading to the store for a six-pack.

Me, I bought half an ounce. I prepared the canna butter yesterday and the gingered pear bars are out of the oven now, aroma wafting through the house.

Why do I turn to cannabis? Two reasons:

Simply, I am in pain almost all the time now. My stupid ski accident at age 19 was exacerbated by the bacterial memingitis I worked through about fifteen years ago. The pain in the knee started the next year and the doctor assured me it was “only” arthritis. For years Advil was my help. Then I switched to glucosamine in all its combinations. When we moved here almost four years ago, I started getting acupuncture and that helped me be pain-free for ten days. But last June I twisted my knee and have minor meniscus and ACL involvement. Two doctors say it is “only” arthritis. But a year later, I am not back to where I was before the knee twist and now having sympathetic pain on my other leg because of my screwed up gait. Again, if you are about my age, you may be feeling some joints now, too. I hope not.

Second, my asthma. I have been concerned with the Congressional shenanigans. I promised it will NOT be a political rant, but I feel I’ve been on the “am I going to die because I can’t afford medical insurance” roller coaster. My two medications that help me breathe cost $1000 a month out-of-pocket. Simply can’t do that. Can’t afford it. And THEN I started hearing how inhaling pot helps asthma. That’s insane! People with lung disease like asthma can not smoke!!! That’s why I make edibles. Smoke pot to help me breathe? Yes, it dilates the bronchi; in fact, I read a medical research extract dumbed down for non-medical readers that said it was the THC specifically that helps the deeper sections of lung dilate also.

Being Oregon, I got into a short discussion about pot at the UFO Festival in May. The guy handed me a joint, telling me it will help. (Yes, I love Oregon). Over three days I tested the concept and, yes, within a short time I could draw a deep breath without any “pulling” tightness. The next morning, still good.

Then my friends stepped in with their recommendations. One vapes. One gave me a bong. Decision made.

So, why did I write this? Because medical marijuana is available in twenty-nine states, while recreational pot can be (or will be able to be once they get it set up) in eight states. And, of course, your neighbor still buys his from his co-worker’s cousin, just like he always has. In other words, marijuana is around you.

And, yes, there are people smoking to get high or stoned. Just like there are people getting drunk or pissed on booze. And just as others seek their escape in street drugs.

But there are more people of all ages using the beneficial aspects of cannabis for a medical reason.

 

I’M FED UP AND IT’S NOT BECAUSE I ATE TOO MUCH by Beth Rankin

I’M FED UP AND IT’S NOT BECAUSE I ATE TOO MUCH by Beth Rankin

 

BETH RANKIN

About ten years ago something happened. I woke up.

I became aware that a lot of people were writing about the changes to our foods that had been going on since the mid 1990s and about how some illnesses also had a surge in diagnosis since that time.

The  skeptic in me says coincidence does not necessarily show a cause. The cautious part of me decided I needed to prove it to myself.

Having read about how some of the genetically engineered foods kills insects that typically infiltrate plants like corn by causing their stomachs to rupture, I began to think how my daughter, born in 1994, started developing something like irritable bowel syndrome before she was 20 years old. The doctor at the college health center recommended she have a colonoscopy which I wanted to schedule with my doctor when she spent the summer with me. He said, no, 19-year-olds should not need colonoscopies, and we made an appointment to talk with him. After hearing her symptoms and the history, he urged her to repopulate her stomach with probiotics and her symptoms eased. Smart man.

As I read more and more I decided we would switch to organic foods where we did not know a farmer who grew a specific food item. We decided to have a six-month trial and surprise, surprise, we have continued this practice for at least four years now. When we follow our own rules, we feel better. But we generally do not recognize that until we travel and end up eating “regular” food. And then the uncomfortable issues start again.

A few months ago the Federal government approved chickens being sent to China to be butchered and then sent back to American markets. What with past issues with pet food and baby food, I am not comfortable with any of the food grown in the United States going overseas for processing. Especially since the USDA eliminated the “country of origin” labeling also!

CHINESE WORKERS PROCESSING CHICKENS

Today I read that the milk industry has petitioned the FDA to CHANGE THE DEFINITION OF MILK to include aspartameTheir point is that it would not need to be on the label and sweet things would be “healthier” without sugar. (Oh, and since so many people are now aware of the ill effects of that artificial sweeter, the FDA has approved changing its name to “Amino Sweet,” so watch for that on your labels!)

For those of us who prefer to know what is in our food, this is unacceptable. Personally, I really can not, nor do I want to, have a cow. (Pun intended) But it is getting to the point where the ONLY way to control what you are putting into your body is to source all your food from farmers you know. Farmers who tell you their growing methods. Farmers who are more interested in health than becoming rich.

I really am impressed by ALL the farmers I know, whether they grow with organic practice or even if they grow conventionally. Farming is hard work. Yields are highly dependent on a huge unknown–the weather. And generally, farmers do not make much income. Long hours, low pay.

And yet, most of the farmers I have met are passionate about what they do. They may be exhausted, but they have the drive to keep on growing food for us.

We are extremely fortunate in Oregon’s Willamette Valley to have almost all our food needs met by local farmers. We need to go a bit farther for citrus and for sugar, but the foods we personally eat and the foods prepared in the kitchen of Can-Do Real Food, we support our local farmers as much as possible.

There are tons of diets that claim to offer a healthier body. No one size fits all, but many can lead to better health. But above all, start cooking from whole foods and leave the frozen foods with their high sodium and loads of preservatives at the store. Not only will you discover what foods really taste like, but you will feel proud that you can nourish yourself so deliciously.

Can-Do Real Food provides you preserved foods that have been made from local food raised on farms that are certified organic, bio-dynamic, or naturally grown or farms that grow in the organic style. Our only products that come from trees that have been sprayed are the hazelnut butters. Although new trees planted in the past year or so are a strain that is resistant to insect infestation, the mature trees must be treated or there would be no crop of nuts at all. All other produce used to prepare the recipes in the Can-Do Real Food kitchen are raised without any chemical treatment for insects or weeds. You may opt not to buy our products, but it won’t be because of added chemicals.

CAN-DO REAL FOOD

LOCAL HARVEST 

NO ARTIFICAL ANYTHING!

[Beth Rankin lives with her husband Graham in McMinnville, Oregon. An advocate of the production and processing of organic foods, she is the CEO of CAN-DO REAL FOOD. Rankin is also the publisher of a blog
“Going Places Can-Do Zero Waste” where this article first appeared on July 15, 2017. Readers are encouraged to check out her blog-site at:  http://candorealfood.com] 

 

THE ROAD TO FULL RECOVERY BEGINS WITH ADDICT’S CHOICE by J. William St. Clair

THE ROAD TO FULL RECOVERY BEGINS WITH ADDICT’S CHOICE by J. William St. Clair

A recent op-ed piece by a leader of the United Methodist Church, published in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch, urged West Virginia’s U. S. Senators to save Medicaid so that federal funds can continue to help break the grip of the opioid epidemic.

This thoughtful article offers the theological hook–the parable of The Good Samaritan–on which to hang a political imperative to increase access to federal funds for substance abusers to receive care.

Although the story of The Good Samaritan is a good story, another parable–the Prodigal Son–is, in my opinion, more instructional and worthy of being taken into consideration for addressing the current drug problem.

In the story of the Prodigal Son, a young man leaves home and squanders his portion of his inheritance by living a less-than- desirable lifestyle. He eventually finds himself broke, hungry, neglected and living in a pigsty. It is here that he “comes to his senses” and makes a decision to go back home. He then starts walking. As he approaches home, the young man’s father runs down the road to meet his son and hugs him in a welcoming embrace.

The story of The Prodigal Son does not tell us why the young man left home and what motivated him to take a walk on the wild side (I’m sure he had his reasons). The story also does not tell us whether the father knew his son was grubbing around in a pigsty far from home (I think he did, but chose to stay home). But, one thing we know for sure–the squanderer got out of the muck by coming to his senses and beginning the long walk back. His father did not rescue him nor did anyone help him on the way back. The young man made a choice to change and then acted on that choice.

Many substance abusers probably relate more to the young man in the Prodigal Son than to the man beaten by robbers in the Good Samaritan–while one made bad choices, the other had no choice. Many mental health care providers probably relate to the remedy for the young man in the sty more than the care provided to the man found beaten and lying in a ditch. We can pull addicts out of the ditch and take them to a healthy place to recuperate, but they will not walk the road of recovery unless, or until, they make a choice to walk that walk.

Urging senators to allocate more federal funds for treatment through Medicaid presupposes that present Medicaid treatment merits our continued support. That supposition is not supported by what we are finding on the streets. I have a sick feeling Medicaid funds are now, in effect, being used to make cleaner pigsties or to rescue addicts who have not, on their own, “come to their senses.”

We, as a community, cannot beg or bribe addicts with Medicaid treatment to choose a new and better way. Substance abusers have to make that choice to be someone new on their own, and then start living into that new-ness. When they do we, as a community, will celebrate by joyously feasting with them.

 

TARGETING OUR WALLETS by Beth Rankin

TARGETING OUR WALLETS by Beth Rankin

 Maybe it was the way I was raised. Maybe it was years of tight cash flow and different priorities, but I have never been a big television watcher. So, I often do not know much about the latest popular show and definitely do not get assaulted by a lot of commercials. Recently the games I play on my phone (Words with Friends and Sudoku) have started to run ads. Boo! But since that personal budget constraint makes me feel I have better things to do with $10 than pay to not have ads show.

So, I have been collecting slogans in the past couple of months. I know that the people who design ads are using words, pictures and sound to attract their assumed demographic for their products. I just do not think I fit many of those groupings. Here’s a small example:

PERFECT TODAY, BETTER TOMORROW. I don’t remember the concept being marketed but just looking at the words I think they missed it. What is better than perfect? If we have perfect today, why change? But since most of us do not have “perfect” I guess some people buy into a better tomorrow with whatever they were pushing.

LUXURY HAS NO BOUNDARIES. Again, I did not note the item being sold but this reminded me of something my family discussed twenty-two years ago. (I remember when because I was pregnant with Sam.) We were on a summer vacation (cabins, not camping because of my pregnancy) when the lottery had reached 80 million dollars. To kill time while we were driving we played the “what if we won” game. With three families in attachment, we bought everyone new houses, new cars, set up college funds for the kids and retirement funds for all the adults, went on several trips a year and believe it or not, by the seventh year we had run out of things to do and buy. BUT I reminded them that we, at this level of middle class, had really no idea how the wealthy spend their money. For example, wouldn’t it be more comfortable to hire a private jet to fly us to Europe than even taking first class on a scheduled airline? So I understand the concept that I don’t really know about acquiring luxuries. So exactly who is being targeted with this ad?

FAKE BUT ACCURATE. What? I certainly am not buying that news and information can be accurate if it is fake. So let’s play with the idea of eyelashes, hair color, fake fur. All perfectly acceptable, but would you use “accurate” to describe them?

DOUBLE MEANS DOUBLE. This was for a credit card marketing their earned points system. But come on. Single means single. Triple means triple. Horse means horse. Meaningless drivel is meaningless drivel.

TWO BUCKS IS BETTER. Really, McDonalds? What is better about $2.00? Oh, you are flashing photos of your various drinks with whipped cream. So, what are you trying to tell us? They used to be more expensive? They ARE more expensive elsewhere (like Starbucks) and you are implying the quality is the same? I have no idea. I just know that in the years McDonalds has been in business their prices have gone up, their serving sizes have gone down, and their food just doesn’t taste like the same thing I can fix at home…for less!

ENJOY THE GO. Charmin wants you to have a nice experience. LOL Here’s one that was not televised. I suppose we should be grateful.

So, just a small example of ones that I felt were not talking to me.

On the other hand, I have enjoyed AND WATCHED several video ads in full recently. Two were for Audible. One was a woman on a train and the other was an older dude sitting in a café. Both listening. Both absorbed. Startling back to reality with some intrusion. I recognize that feeling. I haven’t gotten an Audible subscription yet, but the next road trip I will.

I also clicked on an ad for an insulated bottle that holds a beer bottle. Now that product shows up in more ads on my internet feed. Love those cookies, eh?

The point is, ads work. Even for me, who is not a big shopper. In the past year I purchased socks that were advertised on Facebook (and love them) and a solar charger that looked like it would work well for my daughter and her dude who do a lot of back country exploring.

But who finds themselves heading to Micky D’s to get some pink stuff?

[Beth Rankin lives with her husband Graham in McMinnville, Oregon. She is a gifted entrepreneur, blogger, and writer. She is also the chief executive of Can-Do Foods. Beth’s articles are frequently reprinted in Columnist with a View from her blog “Going Places, Living Life.”]

“ALZHUMOR”: USING LAUGHTER TO LIGHTEN THE MOOD OF CAREGIVING by Maria Deneau

“ALZHUMOR”: USING LAUGHTER TO LIGHTEN THE MOOD OF CAREGIVING by Maria Deneau

MARIA MARTINI DENEAU

I’ve started noticing that the conversation around Alzheimer’s disease is always so heavy. Like, dead weight heavy. It’s about time we started changing that tone–especially for the folks and families doing the caregiving.

There’s some funny “shit-ake mushrooms” being said and done while experiencing this bizarre world of dementia, so I figure that until we cure this dumb disease, we have to learn coping strategies, like how to laugh. Swearing is another one…which you’ve already figured out.

For those of you who are still reading, here re some coping strategies and stories that I’ve either heard about from a family caregiver or a facility caregiver, or that I have experienced firsthand in my own adventures as the daughter to a mom with Alzheimer’s. I’m also a public policy advocate/ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association and a professional in the geriatric healthcare world. So, I have seen  A LOT. Most names shall be “made up” for the simple fact of privacy, but these stories are just too darn funny.

ALZHUMOR COPING STRATEGY NO. 1:  MEET THEM WHERE THEY ARE.

First and foremost, as a family member or caregiver, this is the most important thing to understand about this disease: you HAVE to meet your person where they are, figuratively speaking. If they think it’s 1953 today, then you better get out your poodle skirt and American bandstand records. If they think it’s 1973, same thing! Hot pants and Brady Bunch episodes…but stay away from the fish bowl, if ya know what I mean.

So, my friend and fellow advocate “Laurie,” in her home with her mother, takes care of her grandmother with dementia. They are the only caregivers for this delightful old gal, and one day, after doing exercises with her, her grandmother started cracking up out of nowhere. Laurie asked, “Nana, what’s so funny?” Her Nana finally stopped laughing and shouted “I’m getting married!” Laurie said “To who?” and Nana replied “I HAVE NO IDEA!” and kept cracking up! So, they both just sat their laughing their guts out. Laurie didn’t correct her or get upset. She’s way beyond that. Instead she just enjoyed a humorous moment with her Nana.

ALZHUMOR COPING STRATEGY NO. 2: THEIR REALITY IS YOUR REALITY.

You never know where they might take you with this one, so just go with it every single time. Literally.

I used to work in a nursing and rehab center, and there was one resident “Marilyn” who was slightly ornery, but always had a perplexed smile on her face. She had a lot of kids and grandkids, so with her dementia, she found comfort in baby dolls. Her daughters would bring in clean baby doll clothes and bonnets for this doll of Marilyn’s and it was pretty cute. One day, I was helping staff get everyone down to the dining room for lunch and told Marilyn “Come on! I’m gonna give you a ride!” (She was in a wheelchair.) As we went down the hall, she was rocking and singing to her “baby” and it was a very sweet moment. I stopped and asked her quietly, “How’s your baby today, Marilyn?” She looked up at me and without missing a beat, said “It’s just a doll, you idiot!” She was lucid for just a brief moment, clearly. We both started laughing so hard. By that point, she had no idea why she was laughing, but that just solidified why I do what I do!

ALZHUMOR COPING STRATEGY NO. 3: HALLUCINATIONS ARE NORMAL. DON’T ARGUE.

“Ted” was a pig farmer all of his life in Southwest Michigan and ended up with Alzheimer’s. He still lived at home in the family farmhouse. HIs adult children were stressed out by his hallucinations and sought counsel from the local Alzheimer’s Association in Kalamazoo with the program coordinator and social worker, Barb. One day, they called her completely distraught because Dad was running around saying that there were pigs and children running through the house. They kept trying to calm him down by telling him that there WERE NOT pigs and children running through the house. This only agitated him more. Barb calmly told them to acknowledge this. So, one day when Ted started screaming again about the pigs, his son quickly picked up a broom and started yelling “SUEEEEY!” and sweeping the pigs to the door. His sister opened the door and out the front door he swept those pigs! They slammed the door and turned around. Dad went and sat down in his Lazy Boy and said very matter of fact “Bout damned time somebody listened to me!” and was quiet for the rest of the evening.

My biggest takeaway here is to just keep it light as much as possible. If it’s funny, LAUGH! If it’s not funny, LAUGH. There isn’t a damn thing that you can do to control this disease and its tentacles. “Dr. Octopus ain’t got nuthin’ on Alzheimer’s.” I’m certainly not trying to “make light” of the horrors of this disease, but to encourage you to “be light” when going through your day. Next week, I’ll share three more stories to make you smile.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Maria (Martini) Deneau is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and is the only daughter of four children born to Bernard and Evelyn Martini. She is a graduate of The University of Cincinnati and is currently employed by Kindred Healthcare in Southwest Michigan as a Home Health Specialist (Account Liaison) and has worked in senior healthcare since 2007. Maria serves as a Board Member for Fund Development at Senior Services of Kalamazoo County and also serves as a Networking Board Member of Professionals Focused on Aging in Kalamazoo, MI. She has also been recognized by the state of Ohio Senate for Outstanding Achievement and exemplary service to the community and its youth while living in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

This article first appeared in The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement publication. Previous articles on the subject of Alzheimer’s have also appeared in Columnist with a View (columnistwithaview.com).

 

CHOCOHOLICS UNITE! by Beth Rankin

CHOCOHOLICS UNITE! by Beth Rankin

Okay, I admit it. You don’t even need to twist my arm or apply any pressure. I am a chocoholic! If there were membership cards to a group that does not want self-help, I would carry one for this.

So, Can-Do Real Food works with local farmers but I managed to soothe my chocolate need by making chocolate ice cream sauces with fruit. Last year I made small batches of ice cream sauce with raspberries, strawberries and cherries. This coming season I will be making, upon request from my Farm Partner Beach Family Farm, a blueberry chocolate ice cream sauce.

Last year’s challenge was to find a quality chocolatier in the area. The Williamette Valley is pretty spectacular with its vast array of crops, but chocolate is not grown here. The best I can do is to find a local producer. Last year I found Creo Chocolate in Portland. They have a direct Free Trade relationship with cacao growers in Ecuador. Creo roasts the beans and prepares chocolate in a variety of flavors. We like to use the 73% chocolate in our recipes because it is dark but has a bit of sugar added, which means we don’t add any other sugar to those recipes.

When the Straub family at Creo challenged us to develop a mole sauce we were intrigued. Mole, which means sauce, is used throughout Mexico and it seems like every grandmother has her own recipe. I had my first taste of chicken mole on a visit to Texas about 21 years ago. While I was disappointed a bit that it does not scream “CHOCOLATE!!” I think it might have been weird to eat a chocolatey piece of chicken. The chocolate, however, does an amazing job mixing with the peppers and tomatoes and other ingredients and making my taste buds very happy.

When we got this request we, of course, had to do some field work and ordered a lot of chicken mole over the next few weeks at a number of Mexican restaurants in the area. Every single one was different! They all were yummy, with variations of sugar and heat. We made our first batch in the test kitchen with 100% chocolate but decided the little bit of sugar in the 73% seemed to offer more enjoyment. For the heat we aimed for something on the light side of medium. People who like more heat can always add it.

The new challenge was to prepare a mole sauce that would be food safe. Our commercial kitchen is set up for small batch processing and does not have the kind of canning equipment that would provide a safe canned product. (We’ve also tasted the large national brand for mole sauce and prefer a fresher taste.) While it would be easy to open a jar and pour it all out, if someone is going to prepare chicken mole, they are planning to cook, so we realized a dehydrated mix would work fine.

So, Can-Do Real Food is pleased to announce the first of several new dehydrated recipes that will tempt your palate this season–Mole sauce!

The mix will prepare enough to feed eight people. You will need to have four pounds of boneless chicken (breasts and/or thighs) and three cups of chicken broth. We provide a simple recipe on the package. It is also feasible to use other proteins besides chicken. The mix can be hydrated with vegetable broth also. Have fun and let us know how you enjoy it.

And, watch for other new dehydrated mixes this season as the harvest progresses. We have some amazing things we cooked up in the test kitchen that our  partner farms tasted this past January and approved. Now we just need to wait for the main ingredients to grow!