Monday, February 22, 2010

Trip report interrupted one last time - 21 day cleanse

Just after Dave and I returned from our fabulous Wickaninnish stay (see previous posts), I decided to follow another Blogger, Bonnie, on a 21-day cleanse.  Bonnie's daughter had done the cleanse before and raved about it, and I had been wanting to eliminate certain foods from my diet, so I jumped on the bandwagon.
Basically, you take 3 weeks and eliminate the following 5 foods from your diet:
Wheat (gluten), Dairy, Meat (ALL animal products), Caffeine, and Alcohol.

I was especially motivated because my naturopath had suggesting eliminating wheat and dairy as a way to clear up my perpetually stuffy nose.  I had been tested for allergies and had none, so she looked to my diet for ways to help things work better.  I had half-heartedly tried to eliminate one or the other for nearly a year, with mixed results;  I had never been able to discipline myself to stick with it for any length of time

Bonnie's suggestion came right after a few days of absolute indulgence, and I was ready to "trim the fat" so to speak.
A few other people said that they were going to try the cleanse or that they would be interested in the results, so here goes.  For Bonnie's result you may click to the following link:
She has a great blog, so you might want to grab a cuppa and settle in.

My results and observations:

Week One:  I was overwhelmed with planning, shopping, and cooking.  SO many foods have wheat, gluten, sugar, and/or dairy in them.  Read your labels - it will blow your mind!
I ate a lot of beans, rice, tomatoes, rice pasta, marinara sauce, hummus, corn tortillas and corn chips, salsa, guacamole, peanut butter, apples, rice-milk and fruit smoothies, and an agave-sweetened wheat free cereal.  It wasn't half bad, but I exhausted my vegan meal repertoire.
I felt headachy the first few days (probably caffeine/sugar withdrawal), and a bit crampy from the sudden increase in fibre.  I toughed it out through the headache, and drank more water to help with the fibre processing.   After a few days my nose cleared up and I really enjoyed just breathing.  My digestive-waste-processing system changed from it's usual sporadic dysfunctional norm to what is probably the perfect system.  The way it was meant to be.  I won't go into too much detail, but it improved in every way. EVERY way. Poo nirvana. Poo-vana!

Week Two:
 I still took a lot of time to plan, shop, and cook, but I went to the internet and other sources to get more ideas.  I cooked a lot from "How it all Vegan", a vegan cookbook I had here already.  Excellent book!  Before I started the cleanse I noticed that my knees sometimes hurt when I got out of a chair. During week 2 I noticed that my knees no longer hurt.  I felt a weird lightness - like when you try to lift something up and it turns out to be lighter than you thought it would be, and your arm lifts it higher than it meant to.  This is how my whole body felt - as if every cell in my body was just a smidge lighter.
  The opposite of sluggish and lethargic.    I was not light-headed, just light-bodied!  I didn't weigh myself at this point - I had been eating a lot of nuts, avocado, and using olive oil to cook, so I didn't expect to see any significant weight loss. 
So, by the end of week 2 I have a cleared nose, better sleep (I can breathe with my mouth closed and not drool or snore), a "lightness"  in my bearing, and have reached Poo-vana.

Week Three:
I became so relaxed about what to eat that I didn't plan my meals, but just shopped for more fresh fruits and veggies when needed, and threw meals together from all the healthy stuff I now had in my cupboards.  Agave syrup, steel-cut oats, vegan mayonnaise (pretty good!), dried and canned beans, vegetable broth, decaf and herbal tea; these are my new friends.  Need a recipe? Go to the internet - milliions of options.
I started to feel really tired.  Tired all day, and wanting to nap in the afternoon.  I thought it might be lack of protein, but I reviewed my food choices and realized that I had been getting adequate protein.  Iron?  Maybe - I'll still have to review.
Suddenly I remembered vitamin B12 !  Apparently a vegan-like diet often doesn't provide enough vitamin B12 without supplementation.  I had been taking B12 off and on for the past year, but had run out just before the cleanse and hadn't remembered to get more.  I quickly bought some B12, and have added it to my daily regime again.  Now, a day after the official end of the cleanse, I feel less tired....and I'm still on the cleanse!

Going forward:
I LIKE feeling light.  I LIKE not being bloated.  I LIKE losing weight without really trying, and I LIKE Poo-vana!
I miss some things: cheese, fudge, ice-cream, to name a few, but it's not the end of the world. 
I've lost 3 or 4 pounds without trying.  I was never hungry during the three weeks.
I KNOW that this way of eating is good for me.  I feel better physically and emotionally.  I know I'm now doing what I can to lessen my chances of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, all of which run in my family.
I will add fish  and/or chicken once or twice a week, and I will have "normal" food and/or wine at family gatherings and restaurants if there are not enough vegan alternatives.  As much as possible I will remain wheat/dairy/sugar free - I think they were the main contributors to my dietary woes.

The cleanse was made easier for me by the fact that my husband willingly joined in.  I didn't have to cook differently for him; he added fake beer and the odd real drink of alcohol, but stuck to it other than that.  He wants to continue with the new regime - he has no more heartburn and feels better overall, too. 
If anyone wants to ask me a question you can comment here and leave your contact information.  I'll be happy to answer anything in excruciating detail !

Monday, February 15, 2010

Trip report - Part 6 - More about the Wickaninnish Inn.

We resume our trip report after I fell off the couch in ecstasy at my reminiscings of the Wickaninnish Inn.
I've now climbed back on, strapped on a seatbelt, and am ready to share a few more moments of delight about the "Wick".

Food.  Where shall I start?  I did not bring my camera into the dining room until the breakfast the last morning.  Two reasons for this: I didn't want to annoy people with my flash, and I also wanted to disguise my yokel-ness. Hyuk hyuk.  By the last morning, though, I couldn't resist.  We were up early, the restaurant was mostly empty, and I didn't need the flash.  Our breakfasts:

Mine:  Lemon Buttermilk Waffles
White Wine Poached Pears & Cranberries
Clotted Cream & Candied Walnuts

His:  Seafood Benedict
Bubble & Squeak
(note: the bubble and squeak is the veggie cylinder in the foreground, topped with sausage patties and tomato-basil "jam".)
(also note: the custom woven table runner, by local artisan, under Dave's plate)

Here's a link to one of the Wick's menus in their main dining room, "The Pointe Restaurant".  Try not to drool on your keyboard!

View of "The Pointe Restaurant" on a misty day.

More happy thoughts:
The restaurant staff, from host to server,  call you by name.  "Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. X."  Such a step up from, "Hi guys, how are you doin' tonight?"  Love it!

To their everlasting credit, the restaurant offered Dave's favourite gin, Hendrick's, and they made me a mean Caesar with fresh basil and cilantro. Mmmm.

There is a dedicated staff person to bring around the bread basket.  In this basket are THREE choices of fresh-baked artisan bread: delights like leek and onion, challah, sausage.  Selection changes nightly, and you can buy whole loaves of these breads in the Driftwood Lounge  downstairs.  A come-hither look at the bread server brings him swiftly back to your table.   Dave and the bread man exchanged meaningful glances more than once.  About the bread, of course. 

In addition to the regular dinner menu there is a weekly special 4-course "tasting menu" with optional wine pairings.  I had this one night and it was SUPERB.  I didn't have the wine pairings - I can only handle four sips of wine - not four glasses. Plebe!

The wait staff were great; knowledgeable about the food, personable, attentive, but not hovering.

The after-dinner tea selection comes via a tea box: little vials of loose-leaf tea for you to open up and sniff.  From old standards like english breakfast and darjeeling, to exotic herbal blends, to good old chamomile.  Once you make your selection you get a large and drip-free pot.  Lovely.

Another brownie point in my book: the entire Inn supports the local artistic community and local economy.  From the hand-adzed pillars seen throughout the main structure, to the art and driftwood furniture in the rooms, to the photographs in the halls, to the wood, glass and fibre crafts on display in the lobby, to the artisan produced menu choices, one is surrounded by local talent.  A true "Canadian West Coast" experience.

Oh, one more thing.  The day we arrived I was looking out the window of the lobby, busily snapping pictures of the view.  One of the front desk staff noticed I had my camera, and asked me if I'd seen the eagles.  "Eagles! Where?"
"Right out here", he said, and then he left his post, led me out the front door, and pointed up:


Next post: The Beach!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Trip report - Part 5 - The Wickaninnish Inn

Gosh - I've managed to make the report longer than the actual trip.  Oh well, It's nice to relive it all.
On the last trip post we had just seen the road sign for Tofino, and a Tsunami Evacuation route sign.
We turned toward Tofino and soon saw another sign:
Leaving Tsunami Hazard Zone.  Good!

A few more minutes of driving and we finally reached our destination - The Wickaninnish Inn.

What can I say, other than fabulous!  EVERYTHING was wonderful, from the setting, the staff, our room, the view, the food , the service...simply amazing.  I've only been home a short time, and I would go back again in a heartbeat.  Twisty highway and all.

I took pictures of almost everything, so prepare yourself.

Beautiful hand-carved doors between the hand-adzed pillars.

Our room had a forest and ocean view.    A staff member from the front desk escorted us to the room and showed us all the amenities. 

A welcome letter from the manager, with a complimentary fruit plate.

The balcony: behind the deck chairs you can see the bathroom with two-person soaker tub.  Heavenly.

The view of the stormy seas, from our balcony.  The sound of the surf is amazing.  Powerful and soothing all at once.

Command central - the desk in our room, with all the usual stuff,  plus snack basket, wireless AND wired internet connection,  mini-bar, and a hand-crafted driftwood chair.  My laptop slept here.

Complimentary raingear to borrow.  Call the front desk with your shoe size and they'll deliver gumboots to the room!

Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.  The usual stuff, but the coffee maker was the kind that takes those little pods - what fun! - and there were REAL creamers in the mini-bar, and the tea was definitely a step above generic orange pekoe. (I am so easily impressed it's ridiculous, but little things matter.  They matter!) 
If you manage to drink it all they'll bring you more.  No problemo! 

On the fireplace mantle: Books on local flora and fauna, a guestbook, and binoculars to borrow.

Once again, the two-person jetted tub - this time from the inside looking out. (I was going to say two-man jetted tub, but that wasn't quite accurate in our case.  Not there's anything wrong with that...)

More bathroomy stuff: The best make-up mirror in the world, a hand-crafted wooden box of cotton swabs and pads, nifty shampoo and conditioner type stuff, and, lest your eyes be assaulted by the site of jarring technology, a hair-dryer nicely bundled away in a cotton drawstring bag.  It's another little thing, but who wants to see something plastic in amongst all the wood and glass and ceramic loveliness? 
Not I.

One thing I forgot to take a picture of:  In the bedside table is an alarm clock with a CD player.  Underneath is a  drawer with a CD holder, and 10 CDs of various Canadian artists.  One of them is playing softly as you re-enter your room just before bedtime.

As you take in the aural delight, you notice that your bed has been turned down, and that your robes have been placed side by side, holding "hands" with their sleeves and intertwined belts. Oh my!  I felt like I had walked in on Robeo and Juliet!

One more thing before lights out.  Someone has carefully place two bottles of water on the bedside table. They anchor a small card with next day's sunrise and sunset times, the predicted high and low temperatures and the high and low tide times.  Tomorrow's weather is highlighted.

I am in love with the Wickaninnish Inn. be continued

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Accidental "O" Fan

In case you were unaware of it, the 2010 Winter Olympic Games are being hosted by Vancouver and Whistler BC, Canada.
I was fairly neutral about us hosting the Olympics - I liked the thought of showing off our beautiful province to the rest of the world, but I knew the cost would be extraordinary.  The  security budget alone would be enough to run a small country.  We have homeless people here, and goodness knows the money could be spent on them, or on healthcare, education, etc.
I am a bit of a sucker for amazing athletes striving to be the best, national anthems (especially sung by children),  medals, crowds, excitement, tears, jubilation, triumph, understated national pride (well we ARE Canadian), and all that good stuff. 

Today I was messing about in the kitchen, listening to my Ipod.  Suddenly, above the noise of my tunes, I heard a noise outside.  Some sort of loudspeaker, coming from behind our house.  There is a small ravine and forest between our house and the main street behind it, so most of the normal traffic noise is buffered, but the loudspeaker broke through - right through my closed, double-paned kitchen windows.
At first I thought the neighbour kids were playing the radio on their outdoor speakers, but I soon realized that the sounds I heard were LIVE.

I wondered what it could be, and then had an epiphany.  Turned off the stove, grabbed my house keys and camera, and went out the front door.  I was still wearing my slippers, but didn't want to take time to find socks and put on shoes.

I walked around the block towards the main street and noticed that a crowd had gathered. 
"Did I miss it?", I asked a man who was holding his two young sons.
"No", he said, "Here it comes now!"

And there it was.

First this:

and then this:

and then people started to step out into the street...

and then THIS!

Holy Cow!  An Olympic torch bearer.  Running with a torch - carrying a flame that's burned continuously all the way from Athens, Greece.  For thousands of miles.  Carried and shared by hundreds of people.

He was 10 feet away from me.  Wearing that white (for snow) suit, and those red (for Canada) mittens, with traffic stopped in both directions, and hundreds of people cheering and taking pictures.

It was kind of special.

and then he was gone.  Running on to pass the flame to the next torch bearer.

I felt a surge of emotion, and fought to hold back tears. 

Tell me, is this national pride....

or have I started menopause?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Trip report - part 4. Come on baby, let's do the twist!

After leaving the majesty of Cathedral Grove, we use the car heater to dry our soggy selves, and my shirt to dry the camera, both of us wondering why I had to take pictures of wet trees. Why?
Meanwhile, Dave speeds along the wet roads at breakneck speed, determined to make it really challenging for me to take pictures. 
"It's for the blog!" I wail.  "Slow down!"
Mario Andretti-driving-a-Honda-Fit obligingly changes from ZOOOOOM to ZOOM.
We soon reach beautiful downtown Port Alberni.  The only picture I take is the following, knowing that I won't see one again for some time...

As much as I love to patronise this institution, I really don't want to see one in Tofino.  It just wouldn't be right.

Finally, we start on the last leg of the journey.  The long and winding road to the fabulous west coast of Vancouver Island.
Let me stop for a moment and think of all the words to describe that last stretch of highway.  Twisty, curly, windy, convoluted, swirling, spiralling, curvy, twisty, curvy, twisty, curvy, whoop-de-whoop, roller coaster,  tilt-a-whirl.

And here we go.  Note: Yellow signs denote curvy sections, hazards, speed suggestions etc.  They could have saved a lot of money on signs if they'd just painted the whole damned road yellow.  Bright yellow.

At first, things seem fairly straightforward, albeit wet. 
Wet, and foggy, and snowy....

Soon, however, we start to see the little yellow signs.  This one says, and I paraphrase: Curves ahead! We suggest you slow to 50 kph (30 mph) for the next kilometer.

This one's not so bad.  They only want you to slow to 60 kph
(40 mph) for the next kilometer.

These 3 yellow signs say, respectively: caution, rocks falling, road getting narrower. Holy Cow!

In the distance we see another yellow sign.

This one says: Rockfall Hazard Area.  No Stopping for 1 km.
In the distance are three MORE yellow signs: a caution, another wiggly one telling you to go 40 km (25 mph), and then an abrupt turn warning.
This theme repeats itself a few hundred times over the next 90 minutes. 

I'm distracted, momentarily, from the hundreds millions of yellow signs  by this beautiful lake.  Kennedy Lake, I think.  It's lovely, and a welcome break from the yellow signs.

And then, at last, the yellow signs come to an end. The end of the curves.  The end of the rock hazards. The end of the danger.
In the distance we see other signs.  Green and blue signs.  A directional green, and a calm- looking blue.  We squint.  What does the blue sign say?

Tsunami Evacuation Route.  Oh boy.

to be continued...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Trip report interrupted AGAIN. Husband injures self. Wife stoic.

Howdy all,

In an abortive attempt to slit his wrists (gee, abortion and suicide in one sentence) and get out of finishing the renovation on our ensuite, my dear Dave has sliced himself up and had me take him to the clinic for some arm embroidery.

It went something like this:
Dave holds exacto knife in right hand.  Cuts lino tile and presses so hard that blade snaps and jagged edge of snapped blade slices left wrist.  Dave takes one look, sees several layers of skin exposed and blood gushing out, and decides to stop renovations momentarily.

Wraps rag around wrist and wanders out to seek validation for work stoppage.  Finds teenaged son playing video games in room and says, "Er, I could use a little help out here".
Son reluctantly pries game controller out of hand and walks over to dad.
Helps dad wrap better bandage around gushery.  They add duct tape for good measure.
Dad walks out to family room to find wife (me).
"Er, could you drive me to the hospital?"
Wife sees makeshift bandage, rolls eyes (in her mind), puts on shocked and caring face, and reluctantly lets go of new love of her life (the laptop).
Wife: did you sever an artery?
Husband: No
Wife: a vein?
Husband: No.
Wife: then lets go to a walk-in clinic. We don't want to sit around for 8 hours in emergency, do we?
Husband: No.

Wife goes to put on socks/shoes and get purse and book.
Husband goes to computer to look up local clinic hours.
Husband and wife zoom off in car, find clinic, and wander in.
Nice receptionist takes Dave in even though the clinic is supposed to close in 5 minutes.  Wife settle in with book.  Wife know all about waiting rooms.  Wife has sat in waiting rooms MANY times, waiting for husband to be  taped, stitched, casted, stapled, reassembled, untangled, drugged, x-rayed, cauterized, and vasectomized.  Usually not all on the same day. Anyway, wife knows to bring a book to read.

Meanwhile, doctor wanders out from treatment room, asks receptionist/nurse "Where do we keep the (makes sewing gesture) tray... for , you know, (makes sewing gesture again)...
Receptioninst: Sutures? bottom cupboard on left.  (she doesn't have to think about this, but I'll bet she is tempted to make cupboard-door-opening gestures).
Doctor processes this for a moment and then wanders back to treatment room. 

Doctor futzes around getting equipment ready and then brandishes bottle of disinfectant, saying, "This is going to hurt a bit."
"No it's not," says Dave, "It's going to hurt a LOT", and he grips the table.
Doctor pours disinfectant into gaping flesh, and Dave grits teeth.
Doctor gives Dave shot, to freeze arm for suturing.
Doctor makes 3 sutures and starts to tidy up.
"Wait a minute", says Dave (voice of experience), "those are pretty big spaces!  That'll rip apart in no time!"
Doctor: "You've got to take it easy with that arm."
Dave: Naaaaaaah
Doctor looks at Dave and makes 3 more sutures in between other sutures.

Dave is released to care of wife who asks, "Did you get a prescription  for pain killers?".
"No, I don't need any pain killers", says Dave. "Hey can we stop at the liquor store?"
Wife rolls eyes (in her mind AND on her face) and stops at liquor store. Offers to go in, even.
Dave leaps from car and goes in, buys bottle of gin, and comes out all smiles.

Next Day:
Back at it again, this time with exacto knife AND nail gun.  I'm keeping my socks on.
(By the way, both pictures were taken post-injury, with wound already stitched and taped up.)
The bathroom is coming along nicely.