FODMAP

Foods To Be Avoided If You Have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Martine has suffered for years with a digestive disorder known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS ). According to the Mayo Clinic’s website:

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation, or both. IBS is a chronic condition that you’ll need to manage long term.

Part of that long-term management is a special diet known by the abbreviation FODMAP. It stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. (That doesn’t exactly flow trippingly off the tongue, does it?)

Unofficially, as the person who does the cooking in the household, I define FODMAPs as foods that don’t have any vowels in their names.

As you can see from the above list, there are some very basic foods that a person with IBS is urged to avoid. This includes any onion or garlic, which of itself cuts my cooking choices by more than half. Other no-nos include wheat, milk (except lactose-free), all cheeses except cheddar and colby, most pastas, beans, and about half of all fruits and vegetables.

If you are interested in learning more about this condition and how to combat it, I urge you to check out this Healthline website entitled FODMAP 101: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide.

This method of controlling the bloating and diarrhea of IBS was largely discovered by researchers at Monash University located near Melbourne, Australia.

The upshot is that I will probably have to cook separately for Martine, which, as I am retired, I can do now.

Confidenciales

Love Seats (Known as Confidenciales) on Mérida’s Plaza de la independencia

Mérida is a city full of little surprises. At first, one is conscious of the heat and humidity, followed by all that goes into making up a tropical city. Then, after a little while, one notices surprising little things that give the city its own charming uniqueness. Ever since the 17th century, the city’s parks have been dotted with concrete love seats called confidenciales. Rarely does one not encounter (during daylight hours anyhow) young Maya couples seated on them and whispering into each other’s ears.

The Courtyard of the Macay Museum of Contemporary Art

In a tropical climate, nothing is more welcome than cool shade. And it’s not too difficult to find it. When I visited the Macay Museum of Contemporary Art, I was so enthralled by the courtyard, that I sat down on a bench and meditated for upwards of an hour. The building that houses the museum used to be the Archbishop’s Palace.

If I owned a house, I would like one that presents nothing but a wall and a door to the street—with no front lawn requiring frequent maintenance. I’d much rather have a courtyard, invisible from the street with cozy benches and a fountain.

Colonnade by the Plaza de la Independencia, Built in 1821

Finally, I loved all the colonnades. like the one above which is two centuries old. It’s good to get out of the sun when it is hot, and there were always shops in the colonnade where you can get a cold beer or some tropical-fruit-flavored ice cream.

Perhaps all these things speak to me of comfort and relaxation, which is always a good thing when one is on vacation. Wherever I went, I found time to relax in the main plaza or a lovely courtyard or a welcoming colonnade. I always made sure that there was some relaxation time wherever I went. I saw a lot of wonderful places, and I had a good rest.

All the Babes Are Leaving

Tawny Kitaen (1961-2021)

One way to tell you’re getting old is to see what happened to all the babes of the 1960s and 1970s. I was surprised to hear that Tawny Kitaen had passed away. Not that I was a big an of hers, but never was there such a moniker that screamed B-A-B-E in Neon All-Caps. She was one of a troupe that included actresses like Joey Heatherton and Ann-Margret and “celebrities” such as Prince Andrew’s main squeeze Koo Stark and Profumo Affair bad girls Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies.

I suppose it is inevitable if you live long enough. I still think of Sônia Braga, Jenny Agutter, Françoise Dorléac, Dominique Sanda, and Maria Schneider. They were beautiful, and they populated my dreams as a young man. Now that I am no longer a young man, I can see that all of us are on the same journey through life.

RIP Sujatha and Little Mac

Sujatha and Little Mac Together (Which Is Which?) in 2013

In yesterday’s post, I wondered what happened to the elephants at the Santa Barbara Zoo. When we got home yesterday, I looked them up on Google and found that both had died, Sujatha in 2018 and Little Mac in 2019. Although I have no pets, I have felt a sense of loss for these two Indian elephants who had been together at the zoo since 1972. You can read more about them in this article from Radio Station KSBY’s website.

Apparently, despite their size, Indian elephants do not normally live as long as humans. In fact, after 40 years they are considered to be due for geriatric care. Little Mac had to be euthanized at the age of 48.

My relationship with the animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo surprises even me. It is a small zoo, walkable in a couple of scant hours, but I feel more strongly about the birds and animals there. Why?

Gemina, the Giraffe with the Deformed Neck

I had become enamored of a giraffe named Gemina who died of natural causes in 2008 despite a neck that went off at a ninety degree angle. Despite her neck, Gemina lived a greater than normal lifespan (by six years) and had normal offspring. When I heard that Gemina had passed on, I was disturbed, hoping that she did not die in inordinate pain occasioned by her disability. Apparently she didn’t. She received excellent care at the zoo and was widely mourned.

So now that the elephants are gone, their home will be turned into the “Australian Walkabout” some time this summer. I will continue to return to the zoo whenever I can so that I can see my other friends there.

In Cloudy Santa Barbara

Humboldt Penguin at the Santa Barbara Zoo

Today Martine and I set out for the Santa Barbara Zoo, which is open for prepaid admissions. The Spring marine layer was in force, with heavy clouds and some drizzle between Ventura and Santa Barbara. It had stopped by the time we got to the zoo, so we were hopeful. We had a nice time despite the absence of the elephants (which were being replaced by an “Australian Walkabout” of some sort.) Also, the aviaries and some of the indoor exhibits were closed down “because of the virus.” Also, many other animals were either missing or hiding from view.

I suppose I could understand this. If I were in a cage at the zoo, I would not be too terribly interested in gaping at the teams of children and their harried parents. So I would probably present them with my hindquarters, like the above Humboldt Penguin. (Curiously enough, these Penguins come from near the Equator off the coast of Peru—not Antarctica.)

One animal which had no problem facing down the staring zoo visitors was the African lion:

We were done in about an hour, but satisfied by our walk in the cool, cloudy weather. Zoos are never perfect, but the small Santa Barbara Zoo is better than most. The LA Zoo is characterized by massive traffic jams and stroller collisions with adult ankles.

After the zoo, we drove down to the harbor and had lunch at Brophy Brothers, one of our favorite seafood restaurants in Southern California. Their New England clam chowder is to die for, and I also enjoyed the grilled mahi mahi sandwich.

By the time we were headed back home, the sun came out around Ventura and stuck around for the rest of the afternoon. In celebration, we drove home on the relatively uncrowded California 126 and stopped for strawberries the size of clenched fists at Francisco’s Fruit Stand in Fillmore. Also I picked up some yummy dried mangos and Banderita Mexican cocoanut candy.

It was a fun day, probably the most fun we had together since the onset of the plague in March 2020.

Time To Take In Sail

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Having just finished an absorbing biography of Henry David Thoreau, I thought I should also give some attention to his friend and neighbor, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Here is a poem of his that impressed me entitled “Terminus”:

Terminus
It is time to be old,
To take in sail:—
The god of bounds,
Who sets to seas a shore,
Came to me in his fatal rounds,
And said: “No more!
No farther shoot
Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root.
Fancy departs: no more invent;
Contract thy firmament
To compass of a tent.
There’s not enough for this and that,
Make thy option which of two;
Economize the failing river,
Not the less revere the Giver,
Leave the many and hold the few.
Timely wise accept the terms,
Soften the fall with wary foot;
A little while
Still plan and smile,
And,—fault of novel germs,—
Mature the unfallen fruit.
Curse, if thou wilt, thy sires,
Bad husbands of their fires,
Who, when they gave thee breath,
Failed to bequeath
The needful sinew stark as once,
The Baresark marrow to thy bones,
But left a legacy of ebbing veins,
Inconstant heat and nerveless reins,—
Amid the Muses, left thee deaf and dumb,
Amid the gladiators, halt and numb.”

As the bird trims her to the gale,
I trim myself to the storm of time,
I man the rudder, reef the sail,
Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:
“Lowly faithful, banish fear,
Right onward drive unharmed;
The port, well worth the cruise, is near,
And every wave is charmed.” 

A Little Man With a Big Nose

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

I have just finished reading Laura Dassow Walls’s Henry David Thoreau: A Life. As I have mentioned before, I don’t usually like biographies, because if you admire the person who is the subject of them, you are devastated when he or she dies in the last chapter. Sitting in my little library, I was devastated when the American I most loved and admired succumbed to consumption at the age of forty-four.

Everyone knows a little about Thoreau, most of it wrong. When I first read the book, I was told by friends that when he moved to his cabin by the shores of Walden Pond, Thoreau “cheated.” What kind of a hermit was he when he spent a lot of time in Concord with his friends. The answer is: He was no kind of a hermit. The first chapter of Walden, or Life in the Woods is entitled “Economy,” not some eremitical mumbo-jumbo.

Long after he returned to his house in Concord, Thoreau lived an active life giving speeches, writing thousands of pages of notes on nature, fulminating against slavery (his house was a station on the Underground Railroad), and supporting John Brown and his followers even after Brown was executed for his raid on Harper’s Ferry. He had read and understood Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, even while thousands of Americans condemned it as heretical.

I love the above photograph of Thoreau, which also is on the dust jacket of Laura Walls’s biography. Look at those piercing blue eyes. The scraggly beard was to warm his neck to protect him from the ravages of consumption.

This biography is nothing less than spectacular. I was saddened to come to the end of it.

Why do I admire Thoreau so much? I can only say that he was one of the most observant people who ever lived, easily on a par with John Muir and Charles Darwin. It was Thoreau’s notion of land set aside from human occupation as “commons” which led, via Muir, to the creation of the National Park System. Also, I regard Walden as a great book in a century that included such luminaries as Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman.

Now I’m going to have to read some more Thoreau. Lucky me!

Republicans

What Comes First? The Death of the Republican Party or the Death of Our Democracy?

As much as I hate talking about politics in America, I cannot shut up when I see one of our two political parties attempt to destroy the country even as they destroy their own party. It’s like a race to the bottom—that shit pit of death cults and failed states.

I can hardly believe that over 70 million Americans have drunk the Republicans’ poisoned Kool-Aid. I regret to say that the woman I love is one of them. Martine not only refuses to get the shots protecting against Covid-19, but she keeps trying to show me “evidence” from right-wing websites which the AM talk radio pundits cite for their over-the-air lies. Take a look at Natural Health News for its take Defending Health, Life and Liberty (followed, of course, by the obligatory American flag).

These people are the enemy. Follow their advice, and risk dying. Martine is convinced that the Covid shots are more dangerous than the disease they were formulated to fight. She says that her health is too fragile for the shots. How would she fare, however, if she contracted the coronavirus? Better? I don’t think so.

If Martine doesn’t want to take the vaccine, I’m not going to force her. But I have nothing but contempt for her “news” sources. The Republican cultists have created their own plastic bubble of destructive falsehoods in which they, and perhaps ultimately all of us, are weakening and perhaps failing.

Captain of a Huckleberry Party

Author Laura Dassow Walls and Her Biography of Henry David Thoreau

Today I did not even set foot outside my apartment. It was a nice day, even a bit on the cool side, but I was entranced reading Laura Dassow Walls’s Henry David Thoreau: A Life.

Ever since I first read Walden, I have been entranced by Thoreau. I even liked A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, which was not exactly received with open arms when it was published. Wikipedia describes him as a Naturalist and indicates his chief interests as being (in no particular order) ethics, poetry, religion, politics, biology, philosophy, and history.

In addition, he was a pencil manufacturer (the family business), handyman, surveyor, builder, and agronomist. His published works represent but a small part of his interests. Perhaps his major work consisted of his notebooks, which were voluminous. His friend Ralph Waldo Emerson promoted him and his work, but lost interest as the friendship wore off and referred to Thoreau as the ideal captain of a huckleberry party.

I am not always fond of reading biographies: As soon as I become interested in the subject, he or she dies at the end of the book. Still, I always wanted to know more about Thoreau, so I’ll have to put up with some grief when I get to that last chapter.

I’ll leave you with this great quote from Walden:

However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.

Seeing vs Thinking

Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) Painted by Almada Negreiros

We tend sometimes to forget that Portugal even exists, yet the tiny country at the left edge of the Iberian Peninsula has a way of grabbing our intention, especially with its literature. Fernando Pessoa was such a rich trove that he split himself into some some seventy-five heteronyms, or authorial entities. The following excerpt from “The Keeper of Sheep” is by one of his most prominent heteronyms, Alberto Caeiro.

My gaze is clear like a sunflower.
It is my custom to walk the roads
Looking right and left
And sometimes looking behind me,
And what I see at each moment
Is what I never saw before,
And I’m very good at noticing things.
I’m incapable of feeling the same wonder
A newborn child would feel
If he noticed that he’d really and truly been born.
I feel at each moment that I’ve just been born
Into a completely new world...

I believe in the world as in a daisy,
Because I see it. But I don’t think about it.
Because to think is not to understand.
The world wasn’t made for us to think about it
(To think is to have eyes that aren’t well)
But to look at it and be in agreement.

I have no philosophy, I have senses...
If I speak of Nature it’s not because I know what it is
But because I love it, and for that very reason,
Because those that love never know what they love
Or why they love, or what love is.
Love is innocence,
And the sum of innocence is not thinking...

Statue of Fernando Pessoa in Lisbon

In a mock interview with “Alberto Caeiro,” Pessoa wrote:

I’m not a materialist or a deist or anything else. I’m a man who one day opened the window and discovered this crucial thing. Nature exists. I saw that the trees, the rivers and the stones are things that truly exist. No one had ever thought about this.

I don’t pretend to be anything more than the greatest poet in the world. I made the greatest discovery worth making, next to which all other discoveries are games of stupid children. I noticed the Universe. The Greeks, with all their visual acuity, didn’t do as much.

The poem and the quote come from the Pessoa collection entitled A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems translated by Richard Zenith.