Sugar trivia and my mom’s fudge recipe

I was sitting in my Doctor’s waiting room two weeks ago, thumbing through an old Readers Digest when the following title caught my eye:

How to Crack Your Sugar Addiction.

( click that link, and it will take you to the article I read)
      “Imagine making a nearly life-size sculpture of yourself out of sugar cubes and consuming it over the next 365 days.  That is essentially what many of us are doing.  The typical American eats

an average of 128 pounds of added sugars each year according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  And it affects our bodies on every level…”

I love chocolate milk and for almost 40 years have consumed (3) 20 oz glasses of it a day. (or more)

This past week I started paying attention to the number of grams of sugar in the things I consume.

4 grams of sugar = 1 tsp = 1 sugar cube.

1) 20 oz. cup of chocolate milk contains  30 grams of sugar

30 grams X 3 20z glasses of chocolate milk ) = 90 grams of sugar consumed in a day.

90 grams divided by 4 = 22.5 tsps (or 22.5 sugar cubes a day)

22.5 sugar cubes a day!

chocolate milk

And that is just the sugar in the chocolate milk, doesn’t even touch the sugar in all of it’s various forms in the rest of the food I have been eating.

This morning I decided to estimate the amount of  sugar I have consumed to date (from youth till now.)

Are you  ready?

6203 pounds

3 tons

3 tons of sugar.

By the grace of God I have not developed type 2 diabetes (yet), but it runs in the family.

My grandma had it.

My dad has it.

I feel like I need to write a letter of apology to my pancreas.

20 years ago, I remember one of the mothers in the church we were attending was known for being  a sugar Nazi.  At the time I  thought she was one of those over the top/ crazy/ over protective  parents.

Turns out  I was wrong and she was 20 years ahead of her time.

I’m not planning to go all Nazi on this sugar issue, but I am in the process of making some long term health choices.

My mom makes a killer home made fudge recipe that I will continue to eat, if she offers it to me 🙂

Chocolate milk is no longer on the menu.

One of the (bigger) food related issues for me has been uncontrollable food cravings and binge eating.  From what I’m reading, some of that may go away, once the sugar addiction has been broken.

Several of you that are regular readers with medical backgrounds would probably know more about this than me, but too much sugar may play into some cancer cell growth.

It’s taken way too long but I am finally interested in eating more healthy.

The first 40 years of my life, I was able to eat whatever I wanted, when ever I wanted  and not gain a pound.

Those days are gone.

It may sound like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth, but I thought this would be a good time to post my mom’s fudge recipe:

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GRANDMA CONLEY’S CHOCOLATE FUDGE

1 CUP MILK
2 CUPS SUGAR
6 t. COCOA HEAPING
2t WHITE KARO SYRUP

1t BUTTER LATER
1t VANILLA LATER
BLACK WALNUTS AS  MUCH AS YOU WANT ( MAYBE 1/2  CUP)

YOU HAVE TO STIR ALL THE TOP 4 INGREDIENTS  TOGETHER BEFORE YOU PUT
ON ANY HEAT.
USE A HEAVY POT TO COOK ON HIGH( NEVER STIR ONCE ON HEAT) I USED A SMALL
PRESSURE  COOKER PAN.
I WOULD TAKE A GLASS OF COLD WATER AND WITH A SPOON, DIP IN AS SOON AS
YOU CAN SEE IT IS BOILING DOWN IN THE PAN, A DROP IN WATER WILL HAVE A
SMALL BALL AND I WOULD ALWAYS THINK A TAIL. SOFT BALL STAGE ON A CANDY
THERMOMETER , TAKE OFF HEAT AND ADD THE BUTTER  DO NOT STIR TILL COOLED
DOWN.
START TO BEAT AND THE COLOR WILL CHANGE TO A LIGHTER CHOCOLATE COLOR,
ADD VANILLA.
HAVE A DISH BUTTERED AND CAN ADD BLACK WALNUTS READY TO ADD JUST BEFORE
YOU PUT ON PLATE.
LET IT SET UP, THEN CUT IN TO SIZE YOU WANT.
IT’S REALLY HARD TO GET IT PERFECT, BUT WITH PRACTICE IT’S THE BEST
AND SO CREAMY !!!!   MOM

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At the end of the day, it’s all about moderation, personal choice and living with the consequences.   DM

Buddy Check

fox hole

Digging in

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I texted my friend Dan yesterday to check on him.

I was waiting in the car while my wife  was doing some shopping and I had a few minutes.  I hadn’t talked to him in a few weeks.  Last time I did,  there was a lot going on.  He’d recently found out his wife is expecting #3, and  they are living in a 1 room condo.   They were wanting to find another place with more room before their current lease came up for renewal.   Work had slowed way down for him.   He is self-employed  and I don’t think they have much in savings.   On top of all of that,  current things in the news. like ISIS and their  atrocities was weighing heavy on his mind.

Dan text-ed me right back, said he had a Dr’s appointment set up for this Friday.  He has something  going on medically I’m not sure about, but I think it could affect his work situation long-term.

Talk about being under fire.

After a couple of texts back and forth we agreed to get together later this week, to catch up…..

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I remember years ago, someone talking about the importance of doing “buddy checks.”  The word picture he gave was like a soldier peering into the fox holes of his fellow soldiers during a lull in the fighting.

As much as some of us would like to think otherwise,  I believe we are designed  to need other people in our lives. ( I’m not talking about in some sick co-dependent way.)

I have gotten to the point where I’ll take it a step further.  If I am struggling, I won’t wait for someone to check on me….

I will do one of several things,  depending on what’s happening (text, pick up the phone or make an appointment to get together in person)

I am blessed  by a network of interpersonal relationships that I have intentionally cultivated since the mid 1990’s.  It hasn’t always been that way.

In 1995,  I walked away from a close knit  church group that I was very involved with.  90% of my closest relationships were in that group.

Talk about a stressful time.  At the very time I needed someone to help me process life, I found myself walking away from the very people in the past I would have turned to.

Swore I would never ever find myself in that sort of situation again.

Sitting here 20 years removed from that experience,  it was one of the more important turning points in my life.

Out of it, came 2 books, I became a blogger,  I developed several new friendships I would have otherwise never had, and I learned the importance of not putting all of my relationship eggs in one basket.

It also showed me  I am a man of principle above my people pleasing tendencies.

Secretly in  my heart of hearts, I used to think maybe I was putting too much stock on what other people thought of me.  I would make decisions based on what other people said over my personal preference.

My metal was tested and I passed.

I am not a people pleaser  at the end of the day. 🙂

 

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We have a quote on our  kitchen cabinet by Anne Lamott:

 

anne lamotte quote

I really do believe that.

Currently I am on my game and have been for several months.

Next week, who knows.  I’m scheduled for another biopsy.

So, not sure where these words find you this fine morning.    You may be like Dan who needs a some encouragement and perspective…., I’d encourage you to make the choice to be vulnerable. Reach out to someone you trust and talk about it.

Maybe you’re on your game this morning…Is there anyone in your life you know who could use a check in? 🙂

Well, time to have a cup of coffee w/ my wife.  Yesterday I was @ the Dr’s office,  filling out one of those pages where you list any medicines you are currently on.

I put down just one thing…

Coffee.

Did you know coffee beans are full of antioxidants?

They are!

Stay in touch. DM

 

 

 

Étude to Silence

Wanted to share this one with you this morning from one of my favorite writers. Scroll through the comment section as well if you have the time. lots of good discussion. DM

Behind the White Coat

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“Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.” – Jean Arp

How does silence affect you? Do you crave it? Find it difficult to bear? Why? Is it harder for you to come by now? What is your biggest obstacle? Do you actively try to avoid silence? Why?

I was asked to elaborate on my statement last week:

“For the past week, while the kids were on spring break, I had the thirty minute commute to the clinic and back all by myself. I purposely kept the radio off which soon made me I realize how difficult it is to be alone with my thoughts. As my mind began traveling down a path I was not comfortable with I would absently reach for…

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The Coyote’s Last night

The coyote’s were close last night.  Just after dark, I could hear several of them hunting in a pack, just to the South of our home.

I can still remember the first time we heard coyote’s  after we moved to the country.  Wife and I both thought something terrible was happening to a girl on our neighbor’s farm.  Never in my life had I heard such a haunting, varied, disturbing  sound.

 

coyote howling

Have you ever heard the howl of a coyote?

 

A musing on Brokenness, addictions, and Joy.

 Liza Minnelli

Catherine Zeta-Jones

Demi Moore

Charlie Sheen

Sheila Walsh

DM

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What do all of these people have in common?

They all came to a place of brokenness.

A place where they put their hands in the air and said,

“The gig’s up.”

“I need help.”

Someone challenged me recently, to consider going a little deeper when I write.

My hesitancy in going deeper is two-fold.  Protect the confidentiality of others that intersect with my life and secondly, there are still parts of me that are tender.

I am on the mend.

I’ve dealt with 2 major issues head on since the Fall of 2013 and would have no trouble talking about it with any of you one on one.  Where once lived shame, there is now soundness in my soul.

To give you a word picture…

Christmas eve 1985. We’d just moved to New Jersey that August.   I was picking at a little spot on the tip of my  finger as I waited for the Christmas eve turkey to come out of the oven.

Suddenly, out  popped  an inch long splinter.  It  had been buried ever since the day I had helped  Joe V. install a  set of new pine steps in a condo that previous September.    I had pulled a large splinter out of my finger at the time, not realizing a much larger piece was still buried.

Festering.

Numbing.

Buried.

Emotional pain can be like that.

Honestly,  I don’t think we even  know some of the times when we are still carrying around buried emotional splinters.

I will give you one example.

For years I have not been able to cry.  I could even trace it back to a specific incident.  I was  16 years old.  My 15-year-old brother and I got into a good-natured wrestling match in our front yard.  Mom and dad were sitting on the porch.  All of a sudden the wrestling match turned into a knock down drag out fist fight, with my younger brother,  kicking my butt.

Right in front of mom and dad.

I wept.

Tears of shame and humiliation.

16 years old, crying like a baby in front of  my parents.

 

I swore I would never, ever find myself in that sort of situation ever again.  What I didn’t realize however, was I had somehow flipped a switch in the recesses of my soul.  I completely lost the ability to cry, and I did not have a clue as to how to flip it back on later as an adult.

Flash forward 35 years…

The Fall of 2012 I found myself at a men’s conference, dealing with various addictive behaviors.  In that safe setting we were encouraged to call to mind any old hurts we might be still carrying around, because addictive behaviors are often times linked to emotional pain.  The rest of the weekend was spent learning how to identify buried  hurts, bring them into the open/ into the light,  process them, talk about them, etc.

I wept.

Yea me 🙂

One of the most powerful tools I came away from that weekend was a little  ditty that goes like this:

“I am not defined by the darkness…”

In other words, yea, there may be some dark things in my past I wished that were not there, but you know what, going forward, I choose not allow them to define who I am.

Those words continue to bear fruit 3 years later.  I am not and do not carry around the shame  of several life experiences.

Most of us are  carrying around at least one or two ( dozen? ;-)) deep dark things nobody knows about except us…and unless (and until) something forces us to deal with them head on, we will continue to pack them around like a donkey under a load of rocks.

Let’s face it,  dealing with emotional pain takes work. It takes courage.  Something has to be motivating me to change…a crisis… unexplained emotional upheaval..something…

I don’t think you have to relive every painful thing to get freedom, but I do think you need to at least bring the pain into the open.

Let the puss out, drain the wound. and give your heart time to heal.   There very well may be a scar…and even that is not a bad thing.  You may find yourself w/ a deeper sensitivity and compassion for others in the same boat.. You will definitely have a wisdom and insight not acquired from a book.

 

I’m convinced that most of the depression and emotional pain people fight is directly related to carrying around unresolved wounds that can be healed, if only they knew how.  DM

 

 

Vulnerability and Trust

I’m just not sure what to do…should I reside my house or paint it?”

 

“If you were my mom, here’s what I would tell you to do…

Paint.

Sure I could use the work, but you are not even sure how much longer you are going to live here, and since as you said, money is an issue, then spending  $750 vs. $5000 would get you by for another few years…and if at that point, you want to side, we can talk again.”

Conversation between myself and 85 yr old widow named Helen.

 

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Last week I met with another elderly widow I’ll call Delores.    She’d asked me to bid on some storm damage last Fall.  My estimate to do everything came to $2,500.  When I talked to her last week about starting the job, she had a concerned look on her face.   Some other repairs that I had nothing to do with ran over by several thousand dollars, and she had to come up with the difference out of her pocket.   She is on a fixed income, has major health issues and the last thing I wanted to do was give her additional financial stress.

After looking @ what really needed fixing vs. what was cosmetic, I was able to do my portion of the job for $750.  She was fully ready to pay me the whole $2500 but I can’t for the life of me fathom how someone would take advantage of a vulnerable person like that.

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Vocationally, I followed in my father’s footsteps.  He was a building contractor during all of my formative years…He just retired a few years ago, at age 78.

Quick story about my dad…

Back in the late 1970’s a local bank approached  dad about general contracting  a new bank building.  In today’s dollars it would easily be a several million dollar job.

The job was done on a handshake. (My dad and the bank president.)

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In addition to being a  general contractor/builder,  I also dabble in making custom-built kitchen tables out of reclaimed wood.

I met with Carol on Tuesday to discuss building her a kitchen table and two benches… She’d seen one of my earlier projects on my Facebook business page and wanted the exact same thing….

harvest table for sale

48 by 80 table and bench I built last Fall

Carol called before heading my way and asked about a deposit.  I told her,  I normally don’t take a deposit. ..it’s a trust thing.

“Good for you,” she said.

Side note-  Last Spring I was asked to build 15 tables including a 12 ft  table for a new business.  In their case, I did ask for a deposit because of the amount of money I had tied up in materials but that was the exception.

I live in a pocket of humanity where trust is still alive and well.

We had a visitor last month who is from a larger metropolitan area.  He simply could not wrap his mind around the simple fact I trusted my auto mechanic to stand behind some work he’d done for me without a written warranty.

Anyway, I started this post with the intention of letting  my regular readers know that if ever you have a construction question and would like a neutral 3rd party, I would love to be a sounding board if I can help.  If I don’t know the answer, I will tell you.  It won’t cost you a cent.  That’s how we roll in Middle earth.  DM

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Got any  stories about trust?

Want to order a new kitchen table ? 😉

(I build to  specs, finished, unfinished, etc.)

Here are a few other finished projects:

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barn board head board December 2014

headboard

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small tool box

 

 

 

When we just need to get away….

I could see several things in her eyes…

exhaustion

concern

tinge of anger….

She said she just wished she could escape….

disappear…

Tired of dealing with people.

It was late yesterday afternoon.

I stopped by unannounced to talk about  hiring one of her boys.

She asked me to come in.

Apologized for how she looked.   Said she just finished cleaning the cat’s litter box and didn’t like to wear good clothes doing that nasty job.

We talked briefly about my work situation, how I’d come to hear that one of her sons might be looking for work. Then the conversation just sort of meandered to talking about the needed repairs on her house, cuts in government funding that were directly affecting her work situation,  the pushy contractor who’d stopped last year to get her to hire him to shingle her house with his crew of Mexicans.  What bothered her was the way he talked about the crew…

When I got back to the car, where my wife was patiently waiting, I told her the stop had been a success.  Mother was going to give her son my phone #, let him know I’d stopped.

We will see.

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I woke up this morning still thinking about the weariness I saw in her eyes.

That sense of wanting to just get out of town…to flee/ to escape to a quiet place…I’ve been there myself. More so during those years when the kids were little.   Trying to balance job pressures, marriage pressures, money pressures/ sick kids…Some of you know what I’m talking about..

I’m sure she didn’t realize it but she was quoting scripture almost verbatim:

    ” ….I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. “Behold, I would wander far away, I would lodge in the wilderness.”  Psalm 55:6,7

Words  written 3000 years ago by man  under intense pressure.

After we left her house, we stopped one of our state parks.

We saw just one van, other than that, we had the park completely to ourselves.  Some large bird, either an owl or a hawk, flew in low/ through the trees as we drove in.  We  walked through an empty camp ground down to the lake.  The ice was starting to melt.  A pair of Canadian geese weren’t sure what do think of us.  After doing a lot of honking they eventually took off.   They circled around  to the North and landed a couple of hundred yards away.  I’d never seen geese land on ice before 🙂

We walked across an old iron free span bridge built in 1878.  I looked at the 3/4 inch thick metal plating the bridge was built out of.   Moss covered  metal.  I wondered out loud if the nuts that held the struts together had ever been turned since 1878…

That’s how my mind works sometimes…

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As I sit here this morning thinking about running to the locker,   I am surrounded by quietness.

It is not going to be that way much longer.   The frost is almost out of the ground..  I have a butt load of work ahead of me this year.  8 house roofs, some concrete flat work, a large addition,  and I just found out last week, my brother-in-law is still wanting me to help him build a new house.  I told him it would be late Fall before I was available.

The challenge will be to not let the details and pressures of the jobs, choke out the peace and quiet that I have  intentionally structured into my life.

 It’s not always simple but it is possible.

How do you like to unwind?