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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Game Changer...

Humor me... Just for a moment or two...

This UCLA study is worth mentioning.  And no, it doesn't really have anything to do with pancreatic cancer.  Not really.

But, it is so important.  And you need to hear this...

UCLA has developed a program that demonstrates the very real possibility of reversing memory loss in patients with a Non-Drug approach.

Did you hear that?  No Drugs...

It is back to the Basics.  Reclaiming our lives, and our memories, by eating right, sleeping well and exercising with intention.

For many of us, it is a complete Lifestyle Change.

This concept is nothing new... We have talked about it before...

Feeding the Disease or Fighting It

White Crack... the Sugar Connection

The Lifestyle Change that Saved this Pancreatic Cancer Patient

One Tiny Apricot Kernel

Over and over we see the dangers in a Western diet so rich in saturated fats, processed foods and unhealthy sugar levels.  For an eye-opening article on our sugar addiction, you might want to check out this article, What Happens to your Brain on Sugar... (beware, it's not pretty!)

Maybe Hippocrates had it right so many centuries ago... "let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."

The study that UCLA presented took a decisive non-drug approach to affect change in the life of alzheimer patients.  And that's where the rubber meets the road.  For who among us like to work that hard when we could just take a pill?

The UCLA protocol is a rather complex, 36-point therapeutic personalized program involving comprehensive changes in diet, brain stimulation, exercise, optimizing restful sleep, and specific vitamin and mineral supplementation among others.

The dietary changes involved removing all processed food, gluten and simple carbohydrates (think sugar) from the diet and eating a healthy variety of raw fruits, vegetables,fish, grains and nuts.  And let's just be honest... that kind of lifestyle change is daunting.  It's hard.  It seems impossible.

But what if that hard work and discipline could give you your life back?

What if changing our diets and turning back to natural, whole foods makes the difference in how our bodies age?

And what if that change strengthens our immune response and protects us from other chronic diseases, including heart disease and many cancers...

As I said, the idea is hardly new.   As Quartz explains, "Researchers have already shown that multi-faceted, comprehensive lifestyle interventions can significantly improve outcomes in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension.  But it's difficult for these approaches to gain traction for two reasons. First, these protocols are more challenging than simply taking a pill at bedtime.  Patients need ongoing education, counseling and support to effect meaningful change.  And second, the pharmaceutical mode of treatment is deeply embedded within our current medical system.  Insurance companies are set up to pay for medication, not lifestyle change; and physicians are taught pharmacology, not nutrition."

Food for thought... literally!

But in the fight for our lives, I think it's a lifestyle change that is very, very worthwhile.

I'm in... Anyone else??

Love you,

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Here Comes the Sun!

Y'all!  We have finished the Biggest DIY project we've ever tackled... and I mean HUGE!

This winter past we (meaning mostly the farmer) put together our solar off-grid power system.

Amazing and Awesome in scope... We are running on the sun, powering up everything from the well pump to this very computer I am typing on.

It is like magic!

And, of course, there are pictures... you expected that, yes?!

So, in a somewhat orderly fashion, here is the step by step process we went through to power up the lake place... 

After much research and lots of mulling the options over, we decided to go with Iron Edison for our complete off-grid kit.  The batteries and solar panels were delivered by freight truck  and that's when our work began.

Each box contained the cells for our 48 volt battery bank, with each cell weighing close to 80lbs... these batteries are seriously heavy duty!

We set the battery bank up inside our shop container and then turned our attention to the meat of this project... the solar panel array...

First came the nuts and bolts, setting up the ground mount system for the panels, which meant bringing out the post hole digger... love that little Kubota tractor, it made quick work out of the digging... 

The bigger job was making sure we set the rack up facing true south, so that the solar panels will catch the most sun.  We wrangled with that compass more than was reasonable, that's for sure!

Pipe cutting and setting was the next step...

Finally... Finally!  
Time to set the solar panels...

The grid was complete with 18 panels, room on the top for another row if we decide to expand.

We might have given a whoop or two when that last panel was finally attached... Exhausted but so excited... couldn't wait to harness the power of that Texas sun!  And to be honest, just a little scared it wouldn't work and then what??? !!!  (Can't even go there...)

It took roughly a week of steady work to get from the freight truck delivery to this point.
But we were far from finished...

Next step was connecting the solar panel grid to the battery bank.
We chose to run the electric cables underground as much as possible...

Once the cable was run up to the container, we fed it through pvc pipe up to the battery bank and set up the rather complex inverter and solar charge controllers. The Farmer could give lectures on amps and charge and carrying loads...(this is where you tell your children that math and science are actually very important, so pay attention and do your homework!)

With fingers and toes crossed we flipped the switch and...

We Had Lights!!!

And Heat and Air-Condtioning!

As well as a myriad of assorted and sundry electric appliances!

And, maybe best of all, We had our first brewed cup of Coffee!!
All from the power of that gorgeous Texas sun...
It's like magic I tell you!!

Of course, this project had it's share of goofs and bloopers... nothing goes as smoothly as you imagine it!

One of the solar panels had a rough trip on the freight truck...

Ouch!  Not what we wanted to see...
Thankfully, Iron Edison quickly replaced it at no charge to us!

Another major snafu was a little bit bigger hiccup.
The first time we ran the A/C, the load drained the batteries down in just several hours,
to the point that it shut the whole system down!

We were like, Yikes!
It gets hot here in Texas...
A/C is not just a luxury,
it's a mandatory utility!

With hearts sinking, we feared that our 48 volt Battery Bank
was not going to be sufficient to power us thru the rising temps of summer,
let alone the brutal dog days of a Texas August!

A call to our favorite technician at Iron Edison, helped alleviate our concerns.
With the patience of a saint, Rhodes talked Leroy through troubleshooting the parameters on the system and found that it had been pre-set at the factory for wind-power rather than solar-power.

Obviously, that wasn't going to work!
Parameters were re-set and we were off and running!

From sunrise to sunset,
the sun brings renewed power and life to our little country homestead.

It is a simple joy and blessing indeed!
God is good,
and we are graced with His sunny smile today...

With bended knee and a happy heart,
thanksgiving pours,
My Love, Always,

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

Memorial Day Greetings 
from the Lake...

Remembering the Fallen this day,
May your sacrifice never be forgotten...

It is a gift of ultimate sacrifice
that gives us the ultimate freedoms we live in each day.

For All gave Some,
But Some gave All...

In Grateful Memory,

Sunday, May 14, 2017

You make saying Goodbye so hard...

Winnie the Pooh had it right.

Some people make it so hard to say Goodbye...

If you're celebrating this Mother's Day with a hole in your heart, perhaps missing a mom gone too soon or missing the child you never got to hold in your arms, then know that you are not alone.

For the child in us missing our moms,
For the moms in us missing our babies...

Might we lift up hands of gratitude
even as tears fall,

How lucky we are to have had someone
in our lives that made
saying Goodbye so hard!

Missing and Loving 
go hand in hand...

Wishing all the Moms out there
the Happiest of Mother's Days.

May the Laughter be sweet
and the Smiles be tucked forever in our hearts!

My Love, Always,

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

When the Winds of Life Blow...

Life has a way of throwing curves.

Just as we were unwinding from our trip, the phone rang with news that had us packing our bags again and heading north...

Leroy's mom had been admitted to the hospital in serious respiratory distress.  Her bout with lung cancer several years ago and the mega-doses of radiation had severely compromised her lungs and while the cancer is now in remission, the lungs have been left scarred and weak.

And so, the winds of life blow...

While we were walking the beaches in St. Lucia, we came across this beach at Anse Cannelles... a wild, craggy coastline facing the Atlantic Ocean.

The waves crashed and beat against the cliffs, {it was definitely not a swimming beach!}... still, it had a majestic charm that reeled us in...

We hiked down to the slim sandy shore and poked around amongst the driftwood and coconuts...

And on that far off cliff we noticed the tree line...

...beaten down by the relentless wind, but holding on despite all odds.

And it reminded me of the Biosphere 2 project.  You might remember it?

The Biosphere 2 project was created to be a miniature version of our planet.  It is owned by the University of Arizona and was constructed in order for scientists to study how the planet's ecosystems work together.

In this artificial environment, they created 7 unique ecosystem models, like a small ocean, a rain forest, a desert and a savanna grassland.  Then they produced all kinds of weather patterns and studied plant growth.

And in this tightly controlled experimental model they made a surprising discovery.

They learned of the major importance of wind in a plant's growth and maturing.

In the Biosphere, trees grew much faster than they would grow in the wild.  They also began to collapse before they completely matured.  As it turns out, the lack of wind played a huge role.

Scientists discovered that the pressure of the wind is what strengthens the tree trunk and allows them to hold up their own weight.

When plants and trees grow in the wild, constantly exposed to the wind and wind movement, the plant compensates by growing "reaction wood" or stress wood.  This stress is what makes a tree strong enough to sustain the wear and tear it will face later in life.

And this is where I say Ahhhh.... I see it now.  God opens shuttered eyes... Weathering the storms of life builds our strength.

It's true.  The winds of life will blow.  And if we allow, they will strengthen both our faith and our character.

But it hurts.

And that's the truth.  Our hearts ache as we tuck sheets up and hold the frail hand...

Dr. and Nurses hover.  Family rallies around.  Decisions are made.  There is nothing else to do for failing lungs.  The paramount goal is now keeping her comfortable.  Hospice is called.

Tears refuse to fall as she closes her eyes in relieved sleep.  Fighting is hard work.  This warrior is ready to relax and rest as others manage her care.

Determined to give God Thanks for the gifts we are receiving
even in the midst of this howling storm.

Right now our lives are as bent as the trees on that oceanside cliff
but we are choosing to trust His Hand,
for He alone knows what lies ahead on this wind-swept road.

Resting in Grace tonight,
Knowing the Lover of Our Souls holds the Night-Watch,

My Love, Always,

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Adventure on the High Seas!

The S/V Mandalay...

She has been our home for the past week...

We have sailed through seas of Caribbean blue straight into picture-perfect sunsets!  There's nothing like tropical beaches and swaying palm trees to put a smile on your face...

We have thrilled to the sails being raised as strains of Amazing Grace filled the air...

And because this is a modern 21st Century High Sea Adventure Sailing Vessel, we toured the engine room too!

But mostly we spent every day ooohing and aaahhing over the simply breathtaking views and vistas of this tropical paradise... God's most amazing handiwork...

We snorkeled, and swam, and soaked in the sun... We laughed and napped and walked barefoot on decks of teak...

The Captain even let me take a turn at the helm!

You'd never guess we were at anchor... you guessed?!

And then there were sunsets.

And in the midst of all this splendor, we made new friends...

Great friendships... laughing and sharing our stories together all week... and finding that Cancer had stowed away even on this tropical paradise...

One of our new best friends... Sam... the cute blond with the curliest of hair, a halo around her smiling face...

Cancer has called her name... and she has stood up and said 'You don't know who you're messing with'  She is cancer free today and celebrating.

Cancer has a way of bonding even strangers.  It wasn't long before we were sharing stories and smiles and hugs.  Fighting hard against a common enemy... we're in this together.  Rejoicing over a battle won!

And that cute halo of curly hair... she shared her secret.  After chemo had ravaged her body and she lost her hair, she tried ORS Hair Fertilizer.  It has worked well for her and is a tip for the journey.

Cancer may have stowed away, but it did not destroy...

God is good.

We have experienced His masterpiece, His fellowship and His sweet gifts of Grace.  

It has been an Adventure we won't soon forget...