Thursday, June 14, 2018

"My Week At-A-Glance:




         My weeks during the school year fill up with so many substitute teaching jobs that most people teasingly remind me, “You know. You’re retired.” Up until this year, I’ve laughed and chimed back that I need work to keep me out of trouble.
The real reason is, of course, financial. As a family, we took on debt to help our son start his own business. Our strategy to shift major purchases onto our shoulders as a family gave him breathing room as he mastered his skills and pulled in clients. We knew from my husband’s experience as a freelance artist that it can take four or five years to establish a business to profitability. When we made the move ourselves, I had a full-time job in education with a steady paycheck. Our son, single, didn’t have a second income to support him as he studied, purchased equipment, and sought clientele. As a family, we’ve allocated part of our income (my substitute work) into paying off business expenses at a faster rate than our son could do on his own.
         This upcoming school year should bring us to our financial goal of clearing almost all of the debt incurred from this investment. I wonder if that means, come the 2019-2020 school year, I’ll do a second retirement—this time from substitute teaching. My calendar will sit blank month after month, with no commitments except for whatever my heart desires. I could write all day, every day!



         But I know my nature. Today, I look at my calendar for next month—empty right now, and think, “What will I do to fill these days?” A little flutter of panic hits me when I consider endless days left open and blank. I suspect that I may dip my toe into substitute teaching for many more years. I could shift to working like my dad did with a few days each month to pay for something special for Christmas or birthdays.

Copyright 2018 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

"Guinness"






         I rule the world when it comes to high cholesterol. Year after year, my total pushes to 300 or nudges above a tad. When this first happened, my doctors slapped me onto a statin. I danced along happily for several years. The initial body aches and pains I experience I attributed to adding weights to my cardio workout. The crippling hobble I developed came from the higher heels I wore to a new job. When I felt like a steamroller had pressed me into the pavement, I mentioned it to my sister because the pain pulsed from the tips of my fingers down to my toes.
         “That’s your statin!” she cried. “Stop taking it now. Call your doctor on Monday.”
         I followed her advice and began, with my doctor, the rollercoaster ride of experimenting with various medications to control my cholesterol. Inevitably, we went through everything on the market with side effects punching me down immediately or sneakily creeping up to surprise me months down the line.
         After a while, we agreed to embrace my high cholesterol levels until something else came along. I tried adding red wine (specifically the dry Italian ones) to my diet, but found my stomach hated even a single nightly glass. I bumped up my oat intake and ate avocados daily. I burned out on the diet, and it barely made a ripple in any of my levels.
         About six months ago, I read an article about the benefits of adding one bottle of Guinness to your evening meal. It contains “antioxidant compounds that slow down the deposits of cholesterol on artery walls which reduces the risk of blood clots and ultimately heart attacks.” I decided immediately that this was a delightfully easy experiment for me! I don’t drink. Beer tastes like piss to me. But Guinness? There’s nothing like sipping a pint in an Irish pub that pulses with music and good cheer. I knew this challenge, a pint a night, could be successfully slipped into my daily routine.
         Yesterday, I sat across from my doctor’s PA as she read off the brightly red flagged numbers. She puzzled that my HDL levels were extremely high—higher than they’ve ever been, and my triglycerides had dipped down low enough for me to add Fish Oil to my diet to possibly nudge the numbers even lower. My overall “score” hadn’t changed, and she wondered about the cause of the shifts she saw.
         “That’s the Guinness,” I exclaimed.
         “Guinness?”
         “I read a study about its benefits and added it to my evening meal back in January.”
         She turned back to the computer screen, musing, “I read the same study. Good to know that it’s an option I can discuss with other patients.”
         Granted, the red warning boxes on my test results flag every medical professional I’ve ever talked to. I’m in perfect health EXCEPT FOR . . . those little squares. To see some kind of difference after a few months gives us hope that the trend may continue in a downward direction.
         In the meantime, anyone want a pint?




Copyright 2018 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman     

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

"Norm!"





         We love eating out. Our weekly budget allocates one eat out per week unless we do an extraordinarily thrifty grocery run. Then we can manage another visit to one of our favorite places.
         Over the years, we’ve two places that we’ll visit weekly. Alternating between Greek food at Papouli’s Greek Grill and Mexican food at La Fiesta Patio Café. Our frequent visits mean we earn free meals from both places, allowing us to indulge even more.
         At one point, the owner of Papouli’s would try new menu items with my son and husband offering feedback. He’s helped us celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. We’ve even catered Christmas dinner because, you know, not everyone likes turkey!
         Last night, upon entering La Fiesta Patio Café (Patio Café in our house), the entire staff cheered and waved. All three of us broke into laughter and simultaneously chimed, “Norm!” as we approached our table for three. The waitress carried over our drinks, chips and salsa but didn’t bother with a menu. She knew we’ve memorized everything on their list. Sometimes, all three of us crave their veggie chalupas and will order the same meal. Today found us yearning for different things.
         Many evenings, the staff will amble over to chat with us about movies or their weekend plans if the place isn’t too busy. We’ve slipped into the habit of looking forward to the company as well as the food.
        
 Copyright 2018 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman