Wake Up Calls and Why I’m Going to Smack You

The rhetoric around people solving health problems with a lifestyle component make me nuts. I mean like, I have to go get face down in a pool for an hour or something or “I’m going to start throwing punches” nuts.

You see this crap all the time.

Angela from East Nowhere, OH lost 70 lbs and this is how she did it!

Hi, I’m Angela, a 33-year-old mother of two who has a business embalming deceased laboratory mice as an art supply for PETA demonstrations. I was happy enough but of course I’d gained some weight after having my two perfect children. When I went to the doctor, imagine my shock to find that my blood pressure was 270/110. It was such a wake-up call.

I decided I had to make a change in my life, so I could be a good mommy and a good example to my kids because I didn’t want them to be embarrassed by having a fat mom, so I started running marathons and eat only the finest produce picked by virgin elves under the light of the full moon when the dew has just fallen on alternate Wednesdays. I’ve given up television and am so embarrassed at all the evenings I spent watching Game of Thrones and eating a bowlful of candy.

Life is so much better now and I’m full of energy and my marriage is wonderful now that I’m a size six again. I look forward to my salads and springwater, and nothing wakes me up like a ten mile run in the sleet!

See, I’ve had a health scare, and yeah, it has a lifestyle component. (It has a genetic one, too, mind. No-one ever talks about that part).

I went for a doctor’s checkup and I’m prediabetic.

Did I decide to make some changes? Why, of course I did. I’d much rather try the lifestyle thing if at all humanly possible because managing blood sugar on insulin is a lot bigger pain in the ass than swimming a few miles a week, lifting some weights, and steering clear of the pasta. Sorry, candy and Game of Thrones never was part of my lifestyle, though I’ll admit being a writer and editor is sedentary as hell. I’ve always been pretty good about getting at least those CDC recommended 150 minutes a week of exercise. It must be showing on my heart indicators, because even my doctor believed me! I just upped the amount I’m getting and am trying a ketogenic diet for a while. (Rare steak, bacon-wrapped asparagus, and strawberries with whipped cream. Oh yes, pity me…)

The thing is, that subtext from Angela’s testimonial (and isn’t the evangelical term testimonial a big damn red flag) is that she became more moral and a better human from doing these things. Terms like “wake up call” and the “I’m so proud of you” condescending nonsense you get from people really says to me that there is a better way to look at it.

We don’t need to witness about focusing on one’s health, friends. Look at it like an engineering problem and take the emotion out of it. What do the peer-reviewed studies actually say? Read them. Health articles often overstate lifestyle stuff because it sells magazines and supplements. Would you buy a diet from Angela? Should you be getting your health advice from someone whose self-contempt was that strong?


I have a problem, yes. I am applying a solution, absolutely, but don’t witness at me or ask me to witness.

I’m Not Babysitting!

This picture was taken some time in 1969, I think. Daddy’s feeding me. Of course, right? Daddies take care of babies.

That’s what I internalized as a young child, anyway.

I didn’t learn until sometime later than Daddy’s involvement in my brother, and my care was a little unusual for the time. He changed diapers. He got up in the night with children. He was there for bathtime and cuddling and putting to bed routines. Well, sometimes the evening wrestling matches with Daddy got us too spun up to sleep, but hey, they were fun!

He did what we accept now as something any parent would do – be involved with and care for the kid. It wasn’t just Daddy being there for playtime, as obviously, he was, but Daddy being there for routine care, too.

However, if he were out and about with us, but without Mom, some man was sure to comment, “Babysitting the kids today?”

That used to drive him up a wall. As far as he was concerned, parents don’t babysit. They care for their kids. Yeah, fathers, too!

This was a time when there were fathers who’d brag they’d never changed a diaper – as if that’s something to brag about. It was a time when plenty of men considered it okay to work, come home and zone out in front of the TV while Mom got the kids to bed.

Dad wasn’t trying to be a feminist, I think. When we’ve talked about it, what Daddy generally says is that he wanted to be involved with us and considered the work of caring for us as part of that.

I consider myself lucky to have had a nurturing father.

It’s Too Hot for Coffee!

It’s that time of year when people say, “It’s too hot for coffee.” These people do not understand coffee and are not to be trusted.

My grandmother loved coffee, and she liked it amazingly strong. There was no such thing as a day that was too hot for coffee. Her theory was that on a hot day, you should drink a hot cup of coffee, as it would warm up your insides and make you feel cooler.

I am far more effete than my stern grandmother, and once the temperature gets above a certain point, I really do not want more than a single hot cup of coffee in the morning. After that, I want a cooler and more refreshing drink.

Being a Virginian, I often do enjoy iced tea. However, my Yankee husband isn’t much of a fan.

What we can agree on is a nice class of sweet and creamy iced coffee.

A friend of my encouraged me to try the cold-brew method for making coffee. You know what? For iced coffee, it is utterly perfect. It is also quite easy.

I’m using a two-quart Mason jar for this, but you can really use any container.

Take about 40g (call it a heaping third of a cup if you’re measuring by volume) of medium ground coffee. You don’t want fine ground, or you’ll have a very bitter result.

I confess I didn’t measure the water properly. My favorite coffee ratio seems to be 1:19 coffee to water. This is a few milliliters more than that, but I just filled up the jar with water here. I am confident the result will be fine.

Cap the jar, give it a good shake to mix up the grounds, and put it in the refrigerator.

Now we wait. Cold brew’s real disadvantage is that you do have to plan a little in advance. You should let this coffee steep in the fridge for at least 12 hours. In this example, it was more like 24, but who’s counting, right?
After 24 hours, I think this baby is well-steeped. Now, we need to get rid of the grounds.

You can strain the coffee any way you’d ordinarily strain anything with a coarse grind. Cheesecloth is dandy, as is any paper filter.

Because I already own a steel mesh filter and a Chemex coffee maker, it seemed to me to be ideally suited for the task.

And so it does!

Ideally, you’d store this coffee in a container in the fridge, but with my husband and I both drinking it, I’m not really going to bother. It’ll be used in an hour.

The advantage here is that cold-brewed means that you’ll have nicely mellow coffee that doesn’t become too diluted when you add some ice. A friend of mine pointed out that some people like to make coffee ice cubes to go with their drink. This is also an excellent option, but I did not do it for the experiment.

Iced coffee is lovely in the summertime. If you’re a coffee lover, do try it. And hopefully, Grandma won’t be too ashamed of my effete delicacy!