Tips Appreciated on How to Naturally Lower Cholesterol

Hi folks,

Well, this is a shout-out to anyone who might have some down-to-earth tips on naturally lowering cholesterol.  These would include simple methods to help shed a few pounds too.

Yesterday, I started taking psyllium husks in a glass of water (which is supposed to be excellent for lowering cholesterol), then repeated again today with orange juice. I must admit the juice was much better with those globs of psyllium than the plain water. Actually, not bad at all in the juice once I moved beyond the texture issues.

I don’t eat beef or pork so I am already ahead of the game there.  But, clearly, whatever I am eating is brimming with cholesterol. My children all would give me a long look here and collectively shake their heads.  “It’s all those honey-sweetened cookies and cakes that you’re always baking that are causing those high numbers, Mom.  Let’s not kid ourselves.”

All right then, perhaps there is some truth in that.  How do I bake low-fat/no-fat honey-sweetened treats? We know my sweet-tooth will demand some satisfaction.  How does one deal with that besides eating fruit?  I love fruit, by the way, but I love a good baked good at least as much.  So, recipes for low-fat sweets?  I am open.

I also know that saturated fat is a big no-no.  I am loathed to stop using big globs of butter on my morning whole wheat toast, but I understand that is a necessity.  In fact, for the past two days, I haven’t had my toast at all but instead gobbled down microwaved steel-cut oats.  These too are purported to have cholesterol-lowering abilities.  I didn’t use a dollop of honey for sweetener either since those extra calories add up; instead, I used liquid organic stevia. Not as satisfying except that stevia has zero calories.

I even made homemade pinto beans today for dinner.  Okay, I admit I made homemade cornbread too with probably too much coconut oil and an overly generous amount of honey. And, yes, I did eat two pieces.  But I am not having ANYTHING else today (and that was at 4) except for some honeydew melon that is already cut up and ready to eat.  Surely two smallish (okay, one big and one slighter less big) pieces of cornbread are not the end of the world.

I had salad, roasted potatoes, and a little chicken for lunch with low-fat Blue Cheese dressing.  Surely, that’s not too bad.

Anyway, I could use some guidance. If you know of any good advice that is simple and not too punitive, then send it my way.  Punitive only equals me rebelling and that’s not going to get these cholesterol numbers to where they need to be.  I have three months.  I can do this. All help is appreciated.

I’ll check back in again with you tomorrow.


Blood Tests and Lessons Learned

I had to get blood work done a few weeks back since I was applying for a new life insurance policy.  I was nervous about it. My current life insurance was up and I want Ray to have some security if I die before he does.  He thinks he won’t need it, but if something happens to me, he will need time to adjust.  Some extra money would make that easier on him. So, like I say, I was nervous about the blood test.  What if I didn’t pass?  What if they found something that signaled bad news?

Not that I have felt bad lately.  But I have been around the block a few times with my parents and siblings when it comes to heading for tests and then getting an unexpected diagnosis. A minor ailment sent them to the doctor for the infamous “blood work,” and the results changed their lives forever. I know I’m not exempt from this process. As I age, I am more aware than ever of this non-exempt status.

When I received the results from my blood test, most fell within the normal range. My cholesterol was too high, but I knew I could either work on getting that number down or else go on a minor medication.  But then I noticed that my glucose score was below normal – a 60 – and that worried me a bit.  I decided to look online and see what that could mean.  I looked up the possible causes and read: in rare instances, low glucose can be caused by a pancreatic tumor.  Oh, dear Lord.  Was that possible?

Of course, most of you know that my oldest daughter is a family physician.  I considered calling her to get her opinion, but then I thought of how tired she was after working all day and how the last thing she wanted after hours was her mother calling with lab results.  Besides, what if this really was bad news?  She would be upset and she’s been so tired.  No, I’d make an appointment with my own physician and see what she had to say. Alas, she was unavailable until October.  October?  I could be dead by then.  So, I made a same-day appointment at Kaiser just like the nice woman at the Appointment Center advised and scheduled it on the same day as my mammogram.  I knew that I needed to go talk to the doctor then or else I’d end up sitting around worrying until the life insurance company verified my fears by rejecting me.

Last Friday, I took my papers in with all my results and explained to the doctor, a friendly older man of around 70, that I needed to go over these since there were a few numbers I didn’t understand.  “Is this blood test the only reason you’re here?” he asked.  I told him about the annual mammogram and also a need for a Hep B vaccine since I work with the homeless.  “No problem,” he said.  “Let’s give this report a good look-see.”

I pointed to the first result, which was the low glucose test.  “I’m worried about that score,” I said.

“You do realize we’re usually happier about a low glucose number than a higher one?”

“Yes, but what can cause that?” I didn’t want to mention the tumor in the pancreas until he did.

“Had you fasted?”

“Yes, Overnight.”

“Were you really hungry?”


“That number just shows you hadn’t eaten in a while.”

“Is that all?”


We spent a lot of time on my elevated cholesterol results, ending with a three-month call to action to lose some weight and get those numbers down or else go on medication. I left with a plan in place.

This weekend I saw Sarah and showed her my results.

“This is the most boring blood test report I’ve ever seen. Nothing of note except the cholesterol.”

I told her how I was sure I was going to die for a couple of days.

“Oh, Mama, call me next time, okay?”

I promised I would.

Today I received a letter from the life insurance company saying I have been approved. I’m feeling happy, relieved, and most especially, thankful.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ve also learned I don’t need to go to the Internet for health information without at least noting “in rare instances” or else asking a health professional first.








Heading Home after a Camping Weekend

We have just had the loveliest weekend.

We went up to Ojai on Friday night and spent the last two days just hanging out with our family at the orange grove. Ron's mom and a family friend came up today for breakfast with us. That was the biggest event of today. Yesterday the biggest event was going to the beach in Ventura. The rest of the time was spent either making easy meals or just sitting/lying around. This is so different than how Ray and I usually spend our time that it was especially wonderful.

Luna figured out that she could spend time in the outdoor shower all by herself on this trip. She came over after getting all clean and said, "Oh Grandma, that shower is so refreshing!" Indeed it is.

This afternoon, after everyone else left but Liz and Ron, we all just lay around reading or staring up at the trees. I also did a bit of birdwatching and determined that the big birds soaring above the grove are turkey vultures. I thought they might be hawks but they are too big to fit that description. So, after all this time, I finally was able to look up the various birds that inhabit the Ojai environs and figure out exactly what these birds are. Mystery solved.

Ray and I are headed back to lA now. I feel as though I have been on a week's vacation. Nothing better than being in that quiet and peaceful place with the people I love!

I hope you had a restful weekend and are ready to start your upcoming week with renewed energy.

I will check back in again tomorrow.

Liz taking a snooze today

Up in Ojai

We are up in Ojai with our family. An impromptu camping trip before life gets busy again with work and other obligations. Looking forward to a relaxed time with everyone including the grand babies.

The moon is shining bright tonight. No need for a flashlight when walking through the grove. The moonlight shining in the trees is lovely. I wish I could capture a photo but it just won't be caught.

We will head to the beach for part of tomorrow to stay cool. Nothing more fun than taking the babies and dogs to the beach in Ventura.

Heard a pack of coyotes just a while ago. Made me realize just how close we are to the national wilderness here. That wilderness runs for fifty miles to Big Sur.

We have our dogs inside the Airstream with us. Liz and Ron are in a tent. Gregorio and Sarah have a pop-up trailer for themselves and the kids. Rachael is coming up tomorrow; Ariel has to work. Summer is busy for an air conditioning guy!

Very happy to have everyone here with us for the weekend. We see each other but often for just a few hours amidst lots of activity. Here, everything is much more slow and relaxed. That makes being here a lot more special.

Off to bed. Babies are early risers.

Have a great weekend. Hope you have some fun planned or at least time to put your feet up.

We will talk again tomorrow.

Riley, Quick Writes and My Day

I am sitting with nine-year-old Riley and we are writing a quick write.  This is when we just put whatever we want down on the page to clear our minds and to build up writing muscles.  Riley is having trouble coming up with something to write about. Cordelia is sitting next to him and I suggested that he write about her, describe her, and go from there.

What do I want to write about?  Today, I have a busy day.  I have Riley for 1 hour at 11, then Jack at 1:30 for 2 hours, a visit at 4 from my student Lona who is leaving from Brown on August 20th, and then another 2-hour session at 6 with my student Steven.  I also have my daily submissions to read and comment on from my students in my Story Circle Network online class entitled: A Writing Experiment: 20 Minutes a Day for One Month. This ten-minute quick write might evolve into my blog for this evening since I won’t have a lot of time by then to write a lot more.  I will be tired.

Tired is a feeling I’ve had a lot this spring and summer.  We have done a lot of physical work both at the orange grove, in Texas and here at our home.  I am proud to say we are more organized than we’ve been in many years as a result of all that hard work.  This feels very good.  I am also happy that I have physically used my body over these past few months.  I am stronger and feel better altogether. However, by the end of every day, I feel pretty darn tired.  Ironically, I often feel more tired after doing the mental work related to writing and working with students than I do from lifting and moving boxes or clearing out a storage shed. I suppose the mental work can be more taxing than the clear-cut work of physical activity. It seems odd, but brainwork can really tire me out!

Riley is working away across from me.  He’s had a few false starts so I have reset the timer a couple of times to give him more opportunity to get words on the page.  This ten-minute quick write may, in fact, be my blog for tonight since it looks like it will be extending to twenty minutes before it’s over.

It is due to be very hot here in LA today. Ninety-nine is the projected high temperature.  I hope it doesn’t get that hot. Still, we have our bedroom air conditioners on and two fans running where I am sitting, plus open windows.  Unfortunately, the common rooms in our house do not have air conditioning since we need it so rarely.  Today may end up being one of the days that we actually do need it.

Okay, I am going to wrap up.  We are close to 20 minutes and Riley will poop out pretty soon.  I need to be ready to turn my attention to him for the remainder of our hour together.

I hope your day is going well and it’s not too hot where you live.

I’ll be checking back in tomorrow. 


Weathering the Weather in Ojai

Ray and I spent the night in Ojai last night at the orange grove.  It was a strange night, weather-wise.  The temperature had reached 99 degrees during the day and was just cooling off when we arrived in the early evening. However, the Airstream was stuffy even with two fans running and all the windows open. It is hard to air out a closed up travel trailer after it’s been 99 degrees all day long. 

Alas, we both took showers in our wonderful roofless shower house and got ready for bed.  About this time, it started to rain and the air cooled off considerably. We had visions of sleeping very well.  However, shortly after the coolness of the rain, Santa Ana winds began to blow hot air straight from the Mojave. It was as if someone turned the blast furnace on in August. A blast of hot air coming straight out of the east.  We both started to think the night might not be quite as comfortable as we had hoped.  But then after about an hour, the air cooled off again, as if the ocean air and the desert air had a good old fashioned wrestling match and the ocean air won.  All I can say is hooray.  It was still warm in the Airstream but the air coming through the open windows was at least nice and cool.  As the night progressed, the temperature outside when down to an astonishing 62. 

Today we left at 2 and the temperature was 95. We were happy to climb into the car and be in the air conditioning.  This weekend, the temperatures will go down to the low 80s. That sounds a whole lot better for a pleasurable visit.

Today, we put up what will be a chicken coop in the future.  We hope to get about four chickens when the weather cools off.  That way we can look forward to fresh eggs and lots of barking from the dogs once they figure out they have four furry friends to play with.  That might be a bit trying, but, hopefully, we’ll figure out how the dogs have limited access, at least until they get used to the little critters.  I’m excited about the prospect of chickens. 

We are now back in LA.  It is cooler here but still warm. Nothing like Ojai, however. The high today here was 91, the low was 74.  But there is a good ocean breeze.  That helps a lot.

Okay, off to bed. Hope you’re having a lovely evening.  I’ll be checking back in tomorrow.



Flash Fiction, Memoir and Essay

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