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August 5, 2010

The Spice Necklace


I've said that one of the major benefits of being a writer is getting to meet other writers. Well, I lied. The very major benefit is getting to read their books.

I "met" Ann Vanderhoof through her first book, An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Adventure when I spent a Queenly day at Celestial Seasonings as its book club pick. During the signing, one of the employees gave me a copy of Ann's book, because at the end of Queen of the Road I mentioned that Tim wanted our next adventure to be on a sailboat and I'd been catching him surfing the net for sailboat sites.

"Don't do it until you read this book," the woman cautioned, handing it over.

It was after I read Embarrassment of Mangoes that I started lamenting, "Why can't I have a normal husband who just surfs for porn?" Don't get me wrong: It's a wonderful, humorous travel memoir but disasters out in the middle of the ocean make disasters on land in a bus seem... quaint.


Her latest book, The Spice Necklace, also centers around her and husband, Steve's, sailing adventrues in the Caribbean, but with a definite emphasis on all things culinary.


So, OK. After drooling my way through the pages, I now want to do the sailing in the Caribbean thing, again. Maybe Tim and I will run into (not literally, of course) Ann and Steve in their boat, Receta (recipe) or their dinghy, Snack. Then again, Ann writes that it's part of island culture to make guests participate in cooking. I have a feeling that particular tradition would be scuttled after my first invite.

Some of my favorite parts of the book were when they explored various Caribbean islands in some pretty awufl rental cars, which they call SdJ "Shitbox du Jour" or SdS "Shitbox de la Semaine" (depending on if they're on a French or English-speaking island). Brought back memories for me. My dad always called any rental car we had a "scheisse kubel" which he helpfully translated for me as "shit bucket" in German. And, we didn't even have to be in Germany.

Another favorite part was learning about the art and science of cocoa testing.

And, of course, another was meeting all the island characters through Ann's eyes, especially catching up with a few from An Embarrassment of Mangoes. Really, there are too many "favorite parts" for me to mention, so just read the book.

Need more incentive? Plenty of extremely tasty Carribean food recipes. Be sure to check out Ann's wonderful website for some great pictures and more recipes.

August 12, 2010

Lakewood Book Club


This lovely (with Pelican Puckers), very accomodating book club (they actually changed their club day for me because I couldn't call in on a Friday) has been meeting for about two years in Lakewood, CO. They originally met each other through church and their kids, and started as a monthly prayer group - praying so their kids wouldn’t get pregnant or end up in jail. It worked, so they turned their attendtion to books. (How 'bout praying for Angelina to option QUEEN OF THE ROAD, ladies? Come on! You have such a great track record!)

I always like to ask book clubs how they heard of my book. Lauri said she picked it after reading the review in The Rocky Mountain News. A bittersweet memory, indeed. Yes, the Rocky loved The Queen (the reviewer gave it a "Grade A"), but not long after, the newspaper folded.

Did I hear someone say "cause and effect"? Oooh, wise guy, eh? (Sorry. Tim's still plowing through a Three Stooges marathon on cable. I can't get Three Blind Mice out of my mind. There, now you can't, either. Why should I suffer alone?)

Anyway. Here's "the closest thing we had to a designer shoe, [Janice's] Birkenstock!"


Hmm. Since when did Birks get so stylish? I had a pair in college and I can guarentee you, they didn't look anything like that.

Lovely Ladies of Lakewood: Thank you so very much for inviting me to your discussion! I'll let you know when your prayers are answered. (Angie - call me.)

August 25, 2010


Now, aren't you glad you subscribe to this blog? (Aw, c'mon. It could be worse: I could have included pictures.)

Since I'm still 50 - albeit barely - I knew I had to schedule my screening colonoscopy. (If you have no risk factors, you're supposed to get it at age 50.) I'll turn 51 next week so it still counts as on time. What do you want from me?

Everyone always says the prep is the worst part - mainly drinking all that vile-tasting stuff that supposedly tastes less vile the colder it is. Tim did his screening colonoscopy a few months ago (a year-and-a-half late, which for him and medical stuff is really quite good and therefore a testament to my nagging skills. Believe me.) It seemed the worst part for him was the chills from drinking a gallon of cold liquid in a very short time. Always one to find any easier way, I wondered how I was going to pull that one out of my butt (sorry, couldn't resist), but I needn't have worried. The answer was already there: pills.

Fortunately, a friend who has to have a colonoscopy every year since he was 40, happened to mention that for the last few years, his gastroenterologist gave him a pill prep. Yep, no vile-tasting stuff. Just a bunch of pills (oral laxatives) + half the liquid = same results. I went on the internet and read a study that showed 90% of people who'd had both preps said they'd rather do the pills. I was sold. Unfortunately, my gasterenterologist was not.

When I called to make the appointment and asked for the pills, his scheduler said he doesn't have his patients do them. I never tell people I'm a doctor - I don't want the hassles. ("What should I do for this pain, here?" "I"m a psychiatrist, just the neck up, please." "Oh, in that case... " Shesh.) But now, I felt the need to confess (or pull rank - whichever you prefer).

"I'm a physician, so if you can explain why he doesn't want patients to do the pills, I'll understand."

"Oh, you're a doctor? In that case, I'm sure it's fine if you do the pills." Yes! It's times like these the whole medical school things seems almost worth it.

Apparently, he doesn't like patients to do the pills because they seem to think doing them equates to being able to eat with abandon, ie not do any clear liquids. Really? So, let me make it perfectly clear (like the liquids you'll be drinking most of the day before): What you ingest nourishment-wise is exactly the same, no matter which prep you choose.

Now, some helpful tips:

1) Do the pills (Osmoprep). The only disadvantage is that you have to do the prep twice: once the night before, and once a few hours before the procedure (although the second time is fewer pills and less liquid). Since you can't have anything at all by mouth for about 3 hours before the procedure, this means for an 8 am colonoscopy, you'd have to start your morning prep at 4:30 am (the morning prep is done over a 1/2 hour). If I had to get up at 4:30 am, I wouldn't have been able to sleep for weeks beforehand, anticipating that nightmare. Instead...

2) Schedule the procedure for late morning. Mine was at 11 am, so I started the second set of pills at 6 (I could have started as late as 7:30, but wanted to make sure I was... done by the time I had to get into the car) - still terribly early for me, but no 4 am.

3) Keep reading material by the toilet and once the prep starts working, just plan to stay awhile. What can I say? I'm the Queen of Multitasking. Tim was amazed - as always - that I could sit for that long. He said his legs would go numb. That brings me to another hint: put your feet up on a small ottoman or your legs will go numb. (I really am an expert at inertia, ain't I?) If you don't want to sit that long (what's wrong with you, anyway?) at least stay near the toilet. I started having... results... about an hour after taking the last of the pills the first time and after 45 minutes the second. The night before, it was largely over in about 4 hours. The morning of, about two hours. Disclaimer: I have a Jewish colon and results may vary. But, I can definitely promise this: If I didn't have cramps, you won't either.

4) It's better to start with the baby wipes than end up feeling like you're wiping your butt with a lit road flare.

The procedure itself is nothing. Easy for me to say, I don't remember much of it. (Bowing to the Versed God, here.)

I'm sure you know that colorectal cancer is about the only cancer that can be prevented by regular screening and if your doc finds a polyp, he can take it out right then. If diagnosed early, it's 90% curable. Once you have symptoms, it's likely already at an advanced stage. What I didn't know, is that colorectal cancer kills more women every year than ovarian and cervical cancers combined. Hopefully, you wouldn't dream of skipping your annual, so if you're 50 - do this.

The drugs are great, too. (According to Tim, the first thing I said when I woke up was, "This is nice.") I asked for light sedatation, as I wanted to watch on the screen. I guess I'm really not over my TV addiction.

I don't have to have another colonoscopy for 10 years. By then, who knows? Remember Fantastic Voyage? Maybe gastroenterologists will miniaturize themselves, surfing through our colons, searching for anomolies.

I can just hear the Jewish ones, now: Oy, not so fantastic, but it's a living!

The only advantage to getting up early - and one I don't plan on repeating any time soon.

August 31, 2010

A Poem for My Garden

We have a garden that we do nothing to/with/for/about. Absolutely nothing. There's an irrigation system that waters it, but that's it. Still, we haven't managed to kill anything since we moved in 5 years ago.

Miraculously, some new flowers bloomed today, undoubtedly in honor of Our Royal Birthday. Unfortunately for them, nothing pisses me off like flowers. They attract bees. I hate bees. Thus, I was inspired to create this poem for the bothersome buds (just in case they already haven't gotten the hint):

Violets (or whatever the hell these are) are blue.


Roses are red.


If either required effort,
They'd all be dead.

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About August 2010

This page contains all entries posted to What Do You Want From Me? by Doreen Orion in August 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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