Archive | August, 2012

Olympic moments

9 Aug

If you have a television, then no doubt, you’re aware that the summer Olympics are playing right now. I like to watch the Olympics. Well, sort of. Some events worry me. Those uneven bars in gymnastics, for example. I worry that someone is going to fall off and bust their head. The same for the balance beam. I am overly concerned that these tiny little girls are going to land on their heads. It makes me shudder to think about it. I should get a gold medal for holding my breath the longest while a gymnast does his or her routine. I am sure I feel this way because I was so horribly un-talented in gymnastics. I specifically remember having to do the “horse” in gym class. We had to jump over it. I remember trying that one time, and my feet catching and not going through and so I landed on my head. That explains a lot, I am sure. I was no gymnast, that’s evident.

However, believe it or not, I was an athletic child. Anything that required eye-hand coordination was right up my alley. I did well in archery, softball, baseball, and while I was really too short for basketball, I really could dribble well, and of course, close to the ground. I wasn’t a great runner, and probably looked ridiculous trying, but if you hit the baseball far enough, even a slow runner can get to first base. I had a fast waddle.

My best athletic memory is from my fifth grade year. I was going to a small neighborhood school that had two grades, fifth and sixth, and about a dozen children in each. We used to play baseball out on the playground during recess. I usually got picked last for teams, a common occurrence for short people. The best baseball player of all of us was John Harvey, a very tall, blond-headed sixth grader. He could hit the ball ALL THE WAY to the back fence, which for him, was a homerun, because he could also run fast with those long legs. Everyone admired John. He was the star athlete.

One day, I was up to bat. As usual, all the kids in the outfield walked in closer, because I would, no doubt in their minds, either hit a pop-fly or not hit it very far. And even if I hit the baseball to the short stop or the outfield, I might not make it to first base in time to be called “safe.” I could hit the ball, I could catch the ball, I could throw a ball, but let’s face it…I was little and didn’t have a whole lot of leverage and those little, bowed legs couldn’t always get me to where I needed to go in a timely fashion.

The pitcher pitched the ball to me. I think John Harvey was the pitcher, but I’m not sure. I swung the bat and, for the first time in my life, all the stars lined up or the angels sang or  the magnetic field was in sync or my lucky rabbit’s foot was in my pocket, I don’t know. But I connected that baseball bat with that baseball and the ball, and I am not lying, went ALL THE WAY to the back fence, just like John Harvey’s hits always did! I made it to third base! And the story, for me, gets even better. The next time that I was up to bat, all the kids backed way out into the outfield, closer to the fence, expecting me to hit like that again. I never did do that again, that I can remember. That one hit to the back fence was my Olympic moment.

I played softball and basketball on my church girls’ teams all through junior high, until we moved. I even continued to play softball into my late 20’s, and was a pitcher on a church team. My sister, on the other hand, was not athletic and wasn’t interested in sports. My brother and I used to mercilessly tease her and tell her that she couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a beach ball. I sure hope she has forgiven us for that…

So, now that I am in my 50’s, my identity as someone who is athletic is pretty much non-existent. I can still throw a fly line, throw a ball, shoot my nephew’s bow and arrow, but really, I can no longer consider my self athletic. My sister, on the other hand…

On her 50th birthday in May, a couple months ago, her husband held a hula hoop contest at her party. Well, as soon as I heard him announce this contest, I knew who the winner would be…my sister. I think she can hula hoop for an indefinite period of time. Everyone at the party got their chance to show off their hula hoop skills before she got her time in the spotlight and I can assure you, no one came close to matching her ability and longevity. She can even hula hoop with her neck, which is a skill that she has apparently acquired since the last hula hoop contest she was in, which was my brother’s wedding reception in 1987. She won that one, too.

I, on the other hand, am completely inept at the sport of hula hooping. If I ever had any athletic ability from the waist down, I sure don’t have it now! Nevertheless, I volunteered to hula hoop at my sister’s party, prior to her taking the stage, and I am pretty sure that the hula hoop did not even travel around my waist one full orbit. I did not even qualify for a tin medal.

Interestingly enough, the hula hoop has been around for a very long time. From the website,, we learn that, “No one knows for sure when or where a circle of willow, rattan, grapevines or stiff grasses became a form of exercise. We do know that Egyptian children played with hoops made out of dried grapevines, rolling them with sticks or whirling them around their waist. The ancient Greeks used hoops to exercise. A vase in the Louvre [dated 500-490 BCE] shows Ganymede rolling a hoop. However, there is no evidence that hooping was part of the early Olympics.”

Well, it should be a part of the Olympics now, then! Surely it takes as much physical ability to hula hoop as it does to play beach volleyball or ping pong.

Anyway, my sister, in my mind, is the undisputed champion hula hooper, and if there were gold medals to give out for that, I would personally place one around her neck and sing the national anthem. Her time has come…she is the true athlete!

Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017


Vitamin D

6 Aug

So, back in March, my endocrinologist told me to start taking 2,000 I.U.’s of Vitamin D (That’s 2 pills at 1,000 I.U.’s each) every day. He said that most folks are a little low in Vitamin D these days, because of using sunscreen, staying indoors, etc. and in my case, my body doesn’t metabolize it very well anyway. My blood test results in February said that my Vitamin D level was 9.1 ng/mL. The acceptable normal range for women my age is 30-100 ng/mL. Being a first born, and good at following the directions, being a “good girl” was not going to be a problem. I am pretty sure I didn’t miss a dose in the three months since his instructions. I had a lot of experience in taking Vitamin D pills, anyway, since the standard treatment back in the ‘60’s when I was diagnosed with XLH (called “Vitamin D-resistant rickets back then) was 50,000 I.U.’s of Vitamin D daily. He wanted me to take a mere 2,000 I.U.’s daily? Not a problem! (That doesn’t mean that I had to take 50 pills of 1,000 I.U.’s each, by the way…)

Yesterday, my family doc’s secretary called me to tell me the results of the blood test they did last week. She said the my Vitamin D level increased quite a bit (I could tell she was trying to sound really positive, so I was waiting for the “but…”) BUT it was still only 26 ng/mL. (I knew that “but” was coming!) “Dr. Familydoc wants to see you again in 3 months to recheck your Vitamin D level and also check your parathyroid hormone level.” Wacky parathyroid hormone levels are another challenge with XLH’ers.

Sigh. I had been so obedient, too! I really wanted an “A+” on my Vitamin D report card, but I should have known better. Living with XLH is a life-long commitment and isn’t curable, just manageable usually!

The secretary continued, “I’ll switch you over to Calendarlady and she’ll make an appointment for you.”

So, I spoke to Calendarlady. “Dr. Familydoc wants me to come in to have my Vitamin D level AND my parathyroid hormone level checked in 3 months.”

Calendarlady: “Oh, okay, that puts you in late October, the last week. What’s good for you?”

Me: “Monday, October 22 at 10 AM is good. And remember it’s for Vitamin D AND the parathyroid hormone level and is this also a non-fasting blood test?”

Calendarlady: “Well, honey, I don’t even know what in the world that parathyroid is, but the doctor will make sure that’s what gets tested and sure, it’s non-fasting.”

Sigh. You know, I have this particular mechanic that I like to use when I have car trouble and the calendar lady THERE would NEVER say to me, “Well, honey, I don’t even know what a distributor is, but the mechanic will know what to check.” That kind of response never instills confidence in a client. I wondered later if I should have spelled “parathyroid” for her…

Anyway, I put it on my calendar, and hung up the phone. Professorgrrl looked at me across the breakfast table…I guess I had that “I give up” look in my eyes because she said, “Don’t go there. It’s okay.” She knows that look and I admit, I was feeling defeated. I must be one of those people who occasionally sees the black dot on the white paper before noticing all the white surrounding the little black dot.

Again she said, “Don’t go there…I know you’re frustrated. We’ll get it up to where it needs to be! I’ll google this, we’ll read up on it.” And she did…everything online said that someone with low levels of Vitamin D should return to normal levels within 4-6 weeks after starting a Vitamin D pill regimen. Even Professorgrrl paused a moment when she read that. I had been working on this for 12 weeks.

On her way to work, she called me and said, “I’m going to do a little research and find out what foods are high in Vitamin D.” She loves to cook, and now she was on a mission!

Later she texted me, “Shiitake mushrooms are very high in Vitamin D!”

WHAT?!? Just last weekend we had gone to the local farmer’s market and bought a bag of freshly harvested shiitake mushrooms and later that evening, Professorgrrl made “Shiitake Mushroom Lasagna” inspired by the Barefoot Contessa, who has a cooking show on the food channel. Professorgrrl, though, altered it to be lower in fat and cholesterol, as she does most recipes, because I also inherited a body that makes cholesterol like Krispy Kreme makes donuts. Now, I don’t know what the Barefoot Contessa’s high fat Mushroom Lasagna tastes like, but Professorgrrl’s lower fat version was SO delicious.

Hearing this bit of news about the benefits of eating shiitake mushrooms really made my day, since the memory of that lasagna was still fresh on my palate. I asked her later if we’d go to the farmer’s market again this Saturday for more fresh shiitake mushrooms. “Oh yes,” she said.

So, I’m going to share the recipe with you, Professorgrrl’s version. This is for all of you who need a Vitamin D boost, but not a fat and cholesterol boost!

Sea Salt
Good olive oil
¾ pound dried whole wheat lasagna noodles
2½ cups skim milk plus 1½  cup of fat-free half and half
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) Smart Balance butter, divided
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½  pounds Shiitake mushrooms
½ cup freshly ground Parmesan plus ½ cup 2% shredded Mozarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt and a splash of oil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.
For the white sauce, bring the milk/half and half combo to a simmer in a saucepan. Set aside. Melt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring first with the wooden spoon and then with a whisk, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick. Set aside off the heat.
Separate the mushroom stems from the caps and discard the stems. Slice the caps 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large (12-inch) sauté pan. When the butter melts, add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and they release some of their juices. If they become too dry, add a little more oil. Toss occasionally to make sure the mushrooms cook evenly. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and set all the mushrooms aside.
To assemble the lasagna, spread some of the sauce in the bottom of an 8 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce, then 1/3 of the mushrooms, and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan/2% shredded Mozarella mixture. Repeat 2 more times, layering noodles, sauce, mushrooms, and Parmesan/Mozarella. Top with a final layer of noodles and sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan/Mozarella.
Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot.

For the high-fat, artery-clogging version, just Google “Contessa mushroom lasagna.”

If you don’t like to cook, give this recipe to someone who loves you, and have them make it for you! It tastes even better when someone who loves you makes it for you!

One other thing: I would like to know how this whole Vitamin D thing works. Doctors say that we get Vitamin D from the sunshine. Shiitake mushrooms, which are very high in Vitamin D, grow in the SHADE!


Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017