Red wine, beans, chocolate and garlic

If I am to believe the blood work, I am suffering from kidney disease, though I don’t know how, precisely I am “suffering.” I will see a nephrologist next month to hone the definition and ascribe each ache or moment of fatigue each proper place.

While I wait, I seek a means of control. The numbers on the lab report combined with WebMD and GoogleMayoClinic overwhelm until I fasten on the one number I understand. Cholesterol! My levels, undesirable – Total, LDL, Triglycerides, too high, while desirable HDL, too low and there is a wealth of advice on what to do, with and without medication. I read, voraciously. This is what I learn. Diet:

Ten foods to lower cholesterol in six weeks, amounts and percentages:

Beans – 1 cup per day 5x per week lowers Total Cholesterol 10%

Benecol Margarine – three servings daily lowers Total Cholesterol 10%

Black Tea – One serving twice weekly lowers Total Cholesterol 10%

Walnuts and Almonds 3 to four times a week lowers Total Cholesterol 5.4% and so on. Garlic, Chocolate, Salmon, Soy, spinach and Avocado make the list, with no specific numbers, though I am told 2 to 4 cloves of garlic a day are beneficial while an ounce of dark chocolate raises HDL 24%. Salmon also raises HDL while red wine lowers LDL. Spiffy.

Though no math whiz, my rough calculations go something like this – Recommended weekly intake beans, tea, Benecol, nuts x2 = 68% reduction (rough estimate). Logic assumes chocolate, garlic, spinach, soy, avocado and salmon = 2.5% each x 6 = additional 15%+68% = 83% total reduction in overall cholesterol levels in six weeks if I adhere to a strict diet of mostly beans and nuts, effect on Greenhouse gases notwithstanding. If I triple my intake of garlic, my daughter assures we will be safe from vampires, and if I eat a bar of dark chocolate daily, my cholesterol will simultaneously drop below zero while my “good” cholesterol will rise above 60. Red wine, beans, chocolate and garlic. I can live with that.


When the string breaks

report967Photo by Mike Clemens

The tremolo of the Common Loon and fledgling Bald Eagles became tied to my mother. I wanted Great Blue Herons for my father.

We were looking for herons, Saturday, at a wildlife refuge and found a Kite perched in a dead tree. He canted forward, hooked beak, black inquisitive eyes, intent. I stood in the road, focused on him; he focused on what I couldn’t see, swooping down once, twice, three times, to my feet. Then he took to the air and proved his name. He rose, he hovered, he shivered in the currents, and, then his wings folded, plummeted like grief. And rose again.

I never leave my phone behind, except that day. When we returned home, there was a message from my sister, who never calls. Dad was unresponsive, though restless. He had quit eating  two days before, she said, told her the previous Saturday that he felt “changes” were coming, asked her not to leave town. One of his last requests was that I read a poem at his funeral.

Thursday, my sister called, again.
That afternoon, Kites appeared over my house, half a dozen or more against a bank of building thunderclouds in the East. They swooped low, but didn’t land. As time progressed, the birds moved further off, first south of the neighborhood, then east. I found myself driving through town, on various errands, looking up. Twice, I forgot where I was going or why.

Shortly before dusk, the clouds and birds were gone, leaving the sky bereft.