Archive for September, 2011

The Plight of the Urban Gardener
September 26, 2011

My husband and I are big vegetable gardeners. If I am spending time growing something it better give me food. Sure we plant the flowers too, but that is just decoration for the vegetables. We have about 9000 square feet combined of raised beds garden in the front yard, back and side yards. The back and side yards are fenced, the front yard on my corner lot is not. We live up a ridge from the High School and on the corner of a walkers’ path. What this all means is that lots of folks walk by our home and yard.

I fight off the squirrels and the birds, as well as nosey neighbors but a new more difficult prey has besought my front garden, the teenager. Last Saturday around 8 AM my husband heard some talking and giggling out front. Being the nosey, alert person, he encountered 2 teenage girls with 3 of our squash in their arms! He asked them what they were doing and they told him they picked the squashes because it didn’t look like we were using them. My husband showed good sense in not explaining that squash need to stay on the vine until it dies down, but instead told them he wanted 2 back and gave them one. He also instructed them not to smash it. I thought he handled it well.

You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce where the smashed squash remains 2 blocks away all over the road came from! These squash are a mutant of acorn and butternut and pumpkin, which I happened to plant all in the same bed. I said I love to garden not that I am very good at it! They are spherical shaped and green but turning orange and weigh about 4-5 pounds. I call them ‘Butt-Corns’. I have no idea how they will taste but we will eat them and we will like them. At any rate they are mine in my yard.

So if these teenage girls were not intimidated by a 6 foot tall man confronting them, the question remains how to protect our crops from this urban prey? I came up with a plan. I am yakking them to avoidance. That’s right; I have become the crazy lady in the corner house who starts talking and asking questions any time they walk past the house. Trust me I am not talking about anything that would engage them but I am giving the yak of urban legends; rabid squirrels, coyotes in the woods, and bona fide weirdoes in the neighborhood. It seems to be working. Yesterday I saw them walking on the other side of the street. I waved and asked them if they heard about the one arm homeless guy perving around the neighborhood? The kept on walking!

Have you had your home egged, TP, or vandalized by teenagers? What would you do?



Breast Cancer Support: When Tiaras and Boas are Not Enough
September 19, 2011

The Susan Komen Race for the cure was this past week-end here in town. Usually 35-50,000 people show up for the event that winds through the streets of downtown Portland. The city supports the race and it is hard not to be aware of the event from the news media outlets as well as the banners downtown.

I don’t know when I started participating in the Race but I have a pin from 1993. My company has had a team for 7 years.  For team members I personally distribute their T-shirts and after the race we have a get together at my home or at a restaurant or hotel suite. This year we were so busy I didn’t think we could put it all together and chose not to support a team. I still of course walked in the Race Event and encouraged my former team members to do likewise.

 I am embarrassed of my actions! How busy was I and other women when diagnosed with breast cancer? I know I didn’t have breast cancer on my agenda for life experiences. The disease certainly blindsided me but I recovered and have been in remission for 9 years. I am lucky. Many women die, in fact, 40,000 a year in the USA. At the Race you can personalize with pink cards that you are racing “in celebration” or “in memoriam”.  When you see small kids with pictures of their Mom looking young and vibrant who died pinned on their small backs, it is a tear fest!

There I was in my boa and tiara working the style, trying to be a bit ‘Racy’ for the cure kicking myself for not organizing a team. While not busy beating myself up, I noticed some new fashion trends among race goers. There were many donning pink capes that make a good hero statement, very popular with men. Many women wore crowns and then there were many men and women wearing Angel wings. Let me tell you wings take up some space in a crowd and no one wants to be poked in the face by an Angel wing!

The biggest fashion trend news in Race for the Cure, Portland, Oregon style is the addition of the Tutu and the pink wig. Teams with bright pink wigs were hard not to notice. Who was wearing the wig because of chemo or for support, who knows! The tutus were worn over shorts, pants or leggings by men and women with their Race T-Shirt.  Nothing says I support this cause as a middle-aged man wearing a tutu! 

Next year my team, we will be there regardless of how busy I am, we will consider tutus or other Race support fashion trends.

Have you ever not joined or participated in an event and regretted it? Have you ever felt that writing a check is not enough?


Go for a Bra Fitting BEFORE you Buy your Next Bra
September 13, 2011

Every year around our annual Portland, Oregon Race for the Cure sponsored by the Susan Komen Foundation,, I think of bras. Yes breast cancer is about breasts and breast conservation or mastectomy or reconstruction if you have the disease. Breast conservation, similar to conserving any habitat, there are some damaged areas that have to be taken into consideration. This is what brings me to bras and bra fittings.

No one’s natural breasts are the same as we age. The girls start heading south. A nicely fitted bra can do wonders for an overall good looking silhouette. Many shows on television have devoted their entire program to bra fitting and before and after looks or pictures. Going to Macy’s or Nordstrom or an independent lingerie shop and being measured and fitted by a trained bra fitter is the best way to go. You may have been buying an incorrect size for the last few years, which is like throwing away money and no one wants to do that.

Those of us who kept our breasts after breast cancer, (breast conservation) surviving biopsies, lumpectomies, and radiation face an additional bra fitting challenge. Radiation can make the area around the breast that was radiated shrivel up a bit. Also the effects of radiation can continue for about a year after treatments. This means that even if you were fitted a year ago, a re-fit can’t hurt!

Often breast cancer affects one breast only. So this breast results in being smaller and maybe not pointing as straight forward as the non diseased breast.  Here is where a professional bra fitter shows her expertise. A molded or foam bra can even out the breasts. A bra in half sizes can be suggested and fitted to wonderful comfort. A good fit of a bra can make all the difference in symmetry and balance.

Many bra companies support breast cancer foundations with a percentage of their sales during October going to this cause. If you need a bra and have not been fitted in a year, make an appointment in October during the promotion times. If you are over 40 make your mammogram appointment too!

Do you have a favorite brand of bras? Do you have a great bra story? Are you ready to be fitted?

Soy Sucks
September 7, 2011

In the August 8th 2011 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, a two year and $3 million study concluded that soy does not help with bone loss and hot flashes and other side effects of menopause. In fact participants who were taking soy tablets had more abdominal bloating and constipation than those taking placebo! So if you are getting a soy latte or using soy milk on your cereal it is best to continue because you like the taste, not for the health benefits  for menopause symptoms.

My oncologist has been anti-soy for estrogen positive breast cancer patients for years. Well meaning friends have suggested I use soy for my drenching night sweats and I was always able to say I could not on Doctor’s orders. The truth is I also don’t care for the taste of anything soy except a handful of soybeans at a Japanese restaurant and soy sauce used in Chinese food.

How soy became the darling in foods is beyond me. I am sure many people love the taste and have ethical or physical problems with milk and milk products and soy milk is the best alternative. I have tasted soy ice cream and if you don’t have to eat it why would you?

Dealing with symptoms of menopause comes under quality of life and long term health. No one solution is good for every woman. A soy tablet was never going to be a panacea to every woman. There is no one solution that can relieve all your menopause symptoms long term with-out a chance of side effects; there is no magic bullet. A healthy diet of course is helpful as are weight bearing exercises and a good night sleep.  Haralee.Com Sleepwear can help you cope with night sweats and hot flashes.

Every time I go to my exercise class, I prefer to be somewhere else but I know it is good for me, and I have proof in my bone density scans. Do you do something or eat something, or take something because it is good for you with-out real proof, like soy?