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A Slice of Good News for One Man During the Pandemic

HEALTHY BREAKFAST consisting of an egg, toast with avocado mash and marinated cherry tomatoes.

 

BY THE IRISHMAN

This pandemic has been devastating economically and emotionally. Thanks to my wife long hours cloistered at home have been tempered by lessons and love. I never really appreciated the task of grocery shopping and the joy of her cooking. All accepted and taken like a grain of salt.

She is a Licensed Vocational Nurse, who also earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, which has always seemed to me to be more of an escape from the profession of nursing. Dealing with people is a hell of a lot more challenging than dealing with food. My dear wife, however, has a fundamental passion for seeds and soil, planting and potting, and a relationship with fruit and vegetables as well. She also works well with beef, chicken, fish, and pork, but seems to prefer eggs, shrimp, and tofu as wonderful sources of protein (I think).

For years, I have consumed all sorts of food from fast food, candy, and donuts, along with muffins and more than my fair share of burgers, burritos, and chips galore. Perhaps that is why I grew over the past forty years from 5′ 8″ and 160 up to the neighborhood of 5′ 8″ and 200 pounds. At least my height has remained the same. My wife, bless her heart, continually advised me that I was “obese” at times softly at other times harshly, when I would start to “bloat” or “puff up” again. Taking off 5 pounds for me was always like changing shoes. Cool the trips to “In & Out” and skip the chips at “Pollo Loco.” All in a days work, six days a week, 12 hours per day. Not a free minute to appreciate the execution of her tasks nor the preparation of her meals.

My wife is from Sichuan and she can definitely cook. Her dishes are distinctly different from my Mom’s, but equally as pleasing to the belly and passionately comforting to the soul.

MY WIFE in our garden tending to plants, vegetables, and herbs.

Suddenly, Covid-19 was announced and headed to our shores. People everywhere were dying left and right. Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein were no longer news. By the first week of March, we started precautionary measures just as I called my favorite couple in the world to enjoy some conversation and cuisine, any, together. After dinner, we headed toward “Lockdown” about a week in advance of gubernatorial announcements. I purchased quite naturally some canned chili, gloves, and masks back when they were readily available and not hot commodities. I was afraid and my wife was nothing less than petrified even terrified. Governmental alerts and cautions, repeatedly, exhaustively about “arrest” or “death” etched into the mind. I was still at heart trying to complete some work from my new home office in the garage void of a copier, fax, or printer and without meaningful assistance. T’was hell simply stated.

“You are obese” I was reminded, but this time I had a minute to look at a chart with green, yellow, and red lines. I was not “overweight,” I was quantified and “obese” scientifically. I was hovering around 195 pounds, and my immediate goal was the mid 180’s. My suits hang well at 185. For some reason, I decided to yield “control” of my diet over to my wife for awhile. There was really nothing else to do. She issued instructions and orders. I continued to walk (2 miles 5 days per week). She cooked. By April 1, I was down to 183.8 and by mid April I had learned to poached and spin eggs. After commencement for the U.S. Air Force Academy, quite frankly, I was shocked and stunned to be under 175 at 174.8 (morning weigh in). Things then changed. She had ignited a legitimate interest in food in me (as we prepped some French Toast together [I did not know this took 24 hours]). Other dishes, smaller portions, never hungry. She told me we were getting great nutrients rather than processed “goh-sa.”

By the end of the month, I was comparing and contrasting coffee beans from Guatemala, Kenya, and Kona and walking more (up to 3 miles 7 days per week). In the first week of May, I was down to 172 pounds even and freezing bananas along with a mixture of lemon and orange juice as an ice cream treat. By the middle of May, I was encouraging and supporting the Greening of Glendora with more basil, cilantro, spring onions, tomatoes, and thyme growing in her ever expanding garden. Now I was scientifically “overweight” but a far cry from “obese.”

I have tried to help by cooking this or that, like baked potatoes, or making salads. I used to be a dishwasher at the Cornhusker restaurant in Azusa when I was a kid, and the “bates” were my specialty as well as timing the return of the “greens” to the “walk-in” when Avalos and I would conduct our most clandestine of operations to ensure the cheesecake was, as always, more than delightful. The secret to baking potatoes is set the oven at 330 degrees and “wash ’em, butter ’em, put ’em in the oven and roll ’em every twenty minutes” until perfect. So simple, and yet no one knows. “Too high in carbohydrates! That’s how you got fat!” I was down to the high 160’s and accompanying my wife to Trader Joe’s, Home Depot, and Armstrong’s Garden Center as we started gradually to venture out.

Filling the refrigerator, stocking the freezer, figuring out what to prepare and cook, is a lot more work than I ever knew or even imagined, let alone cleaning up and scrubbing the pans and pots, washing the “silver” and doing the dishes. Yes, I am still an expert at doing the dishes (my way – the wrong way).

Well today, thanks to my lovely wife, who has the patience of a saint and the attribute of being correct virtually all the time about virtually everything, a most remarkable achievement has been accomplished, which I never in my wildest dreams believed possible. An achievement for her, but not for me. Sure it’s great to be under 165 and less that 25% Body Mass Index (BMI), but it is even more important that the woman I married gets a glimpse (although belated and besmirched) of the guy I used to be in high school or college. We just reached the CDC’s BMI of “healthy” and I realized that I have been “overweight” and “obese” over the past fifty years.

Hey, honey, thanks! With all of the “politicians electioneering” and the main stream media serving “negative news” on Memorial Day minute by minute, hour after hour, and day after day, thanks to my wife this pandemic may have actually saved my life or at least extended it again. A little “good news” doesn’t hurt, does it?

 

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