Jens Christian Skou, a young Danish physiology professor, was the first person to describe the ion pump. It wasn’t until 1997 that he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of the ion-transporting enzyme, Na+, K+ -ATPase, or NAKA Pump.
The sodium-potassium pump is the key to functions such as cardiac and renal activity, as well as all general active transport into and out of the cell. The NAKA pump thus forms the basis for the cell’s ability to absorb a considerable number of nutrients, excrete waste products from the kidneys and regulate the water balance in the cells. If this little pump stopped pumping sodium ions out of the cells, the latter would rapidly swell up because of the infiltration of water and finally burst. It would also “lyse.” Source: Wikipedia
Lyse was a new word on me. I had to look it up. “Lysis” means self-destruct.
The Sodium Potassium Pump
Salt is an electrolyte that our body needs. Electrolytes are minerals that dissolve in water and carry electrical charges. Pure water does not conduct electricity, but water containing salt does. Since electrolytes have an electrical charge they can move through the cell membranes and thus carry other nutrients with them into the cells. They also carry messages along your nerves and help control things like your heartbeat. Source: KonaSeaSalt
Several years ago, I paid $5.00 for a paperback being remaindered in a Cape May book outlet. At the time, Crazy Makers, or How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children by Carol Simontacchi was considered radical thinking. I browsed it, then decided it was worth its weight in hamburgers, which is what Putnam, the publisher, put on the cover — thirty of them to be exact. Putnam’s hamburgers, however, looked more like the fat and juicy quarter pounders that come off the home grill rather than the machine flattened, leathery, get-them-while-they’re-lamp-hot patties of unknown beefy origin.
So here I was, a decade later, doing four overnight nursing shifts a week, snacking on Mama Celeste Pizza and watching reruns of The Nanny with Elmo and my pediatric patient. Clearly, I was overdue for some serious reading material. Then I recalled that Crazy Makers was somewhere in my attic and that I had always meant to read it — given time. Now was the given time. The next night, I pulled it from my nursing bag and ironically opened it to page 199 of Simontacchi’s 2000 edition: “Could you eat one-half of a Celeste frozen pepperoni pizza?”
Half? I had just wolfed down a whole Celeste Pepperoni Pizza! It’s my fave! Was this book suggesting that I should stop at one-half? I read on: “That [½] portion size contains 2,000 milligrams of sodium to 600 milligrams of potassium.”
The sodium/potassium ratio was way out of order! The recommended sodium to potassium ratio is 2 to 3, respectively. I ran to snatch the pizza packaging from the trash. The book was published in 2000, but to my relief, the 2010 label ratios of sodium to potassium for a single serving now listed as 1190mg sodium over 3500mg potassium, well within 50% MDA (Minimum Daily Amount) and conforming to 2 sodium to 3 parts potassium.
But that was six months ago. More recently, I bought four Celeste’s frozen pizzas, 4 for $5 at my local PathMark, without noticing that the box was downsized. What was now sizzling in my microwave looked positively puny. Carol Simontacchi needn’t worry about me. This was a genuine ½ serving! Feeling betrayed by Mama, I looked on the box for the nutrition label I had formerly trusted. It now listed 1010mgs of sodium to…wait a minute, so where’s the potassium? Hmmm…There was no potassium listed at all…but then I rationalized with myself. Of course! Cheese has potassium…So I read the list of ingredients for Mama Celeste’s Original 4 Cheese, and there they were, Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan and Romano in order of abundance. Good enough. It listed Calcium Propianate as an end-of-the-list preservative which checks out as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by FDA standards. Great. I’ll simply switch faves. I read on:
But both Celeste Original 4 Cheese and Pepperoni Pizza listed the same calorie count at seven inch diameter that it did at ten inches. Huh?…Am I being jerked around here? Still, 350 calories was well within my daily kcal allowance, and supposedly usurps only 28% of my Daily Value of fat. And 30% of DV saturated fat breaks down to Trans fat (3.5g) Polysaturated fat (2g) Monosaturated fat (6g)…Like so many other Mama Celeste fans, I just didn’t want to give her up. After all, Mama Celeste is an USA icon. She’s gotten so many students through college, kids past after-school snacks, employees on lunch breaks, firemen and police and nurses like me through long, starving night shifts… I decided to trust.
Or did I?
So I Googled for Celeste Pizza and came up with this interesting web site, Cheap Eats, where other Mama Celeste fans commented on their disillusions and unwavering loyalties. I have to side with the comment Kevin T posted:
I just bought a couple of these after not having had them in a while, and darn if they haven’t made them smaller. I think it looks ridiculously tiny now. I don’t know who they think they are fooling. Also, I didn’t realize they don’t use real cheese. I think I will abstain from any future such purchases, unless they come to their senses. Something tells me that Mama Celeste was not making these way back with fake cheese and mega small. I also doubt she used trans fats!
Fake cheese? What artificial cheese? So yesterday I took a variety of four 4-for-$5 Mama Celeste Pizzas for One from the freezer department of my local ShopRite. Not only had the servings been down-sized, but so had the type. I bought a Pepperoni for old time’s sake and took it home to read the fine print under a magnifying glass. Me? I confess that like Kevin T, I have a problem with “imitation cheese” listed under ingredients. Or the “partially hydrogenated soy bean and cottonseed oil.” And what ever happened to good old olive oil that solidifies at lower than room temperature? What is not printed are the ingredients that constitute, in Kevin T’s words, “fake cheese.” Apparently, Potassium is not among them.
If you cannot bring yourself to part with Mama Celeste, I suggest eating a potassium-rich leafy green side salad to balance your ”Salt Pump.”
Some seventy sodium salt compounds are used in food. Only sodium chloride is known as common table salt.
While the FDA regulates the labeling of foods, the manufacturer is on their honor to adhere to the content and milligrams per serving of their products. There has been a recent clamp-down by the FDA on manufacturers to identify the kind of sodium. Sodium must now mean sodium chloride, or common table salt. Processed salt may preserve the food that is marketed, and it may add to the taste, but processed salt does not contribute to the trace minerals that the cell needs. As sodium and potassium act in concert, a problem might be getting too much potassium and too little sodium. If one habitually eats processed foods that list sodium then, then increasing your Daily Intake of potassium-rich fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains is recommended.
The problem with Common Table Salt…
…is that it is processed. Processed salt may preserve the food that is marketed, and it may add to the taste, but processed, or refined, salt does not contribute to the trace minerals that the cell needs. Sodium chloride contains two organic elements: Sodium 39% and Chloride 60% Period. Ferroyanide, Aluminum Silicate, Ammonium Citrate, along with Dextrose have been added up to 2%. Iodide 0.01% destroyed in the refining process and has to be added back in.
The solution in unrefined mineral salt…
Now, doesn’t it make good nutritional sense to go to your local health food store and choose organic, unrefined salt that has some 80 major plus trace minerals that the bodyneeds and thrives upon? My fave is Redmond Real Salt, home-mined in Redmond, Utah, USA. I’ve given it as gifts for Christmas and Passover. It comes Kosher also! My Best bet? Their Garlic Salt. It’s mild and delicious and does not bite the tongue. I put it on everything, especially broccoli. (That’s a hint to mothers on how to palate-up veggies.)
Potassium is dependent upon Sodium
Potassium supplements are not recommended on this site. An overload of Potassium without its counter-part in Sodium can be toxic. If 80% of your intake is in processed foods are processed, then the recommended five servings of vegetables and fruits cannot steer you wrong.
Potassium rich foods
FRUITS: Apples, Apricots, Avocados, , Bananas, Cantaloupe, Dates and Figs, Honeydew, Kiwi, Oranges, Orange Juice, Papayas, Peaches, Pears, Pineapple, Plums, Prunes and Raisins, Raspberries, Rhubarb and Strawberries.
VEGETABLES: Artichokes, Asparagus, Bamboo Shoots, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Celery, Corn, Chard, Green Beans, Green Peppers, Iceberg Lettuce, Kidney Beans, Onions, Parsley, Peas, Potato, Pumpkin, Radishes, Romaine Lettuce, Rutabaga, Spinach, Sweet Potato, Tomato, Turnips and Yams.
Let’s hear it for Celery! It has the recommended ratio of both sodium and potassium. Fill it with peanut butter for added protein and you have a powerhouse after-school snack for both kids and moms.
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Once a fat cell is created, it exists for life…when an obese person loses weight, fat cells do not disappear, they only shrink. Nutrition Essentials and Diet Therapy, 9th Edition, Nancy L Peckenpaugh
The prevalent thinking is that we acquire all our fat cells in gestation, in the first three years of life and in puberty. But there is new thinking that speculates we can also acquire new fat cells in our senior years. Much of weight training accepts the extended premise. As the decades whiz past, there are as many reasons why we gain weight as there are health reasons to lose it. Our amazing orchestrator, Gail Phillips Adams, Class of ’63, does an absolutely amazing job of keeping the alumni in touch, including an InMemoriam list of Trojans we have lost. Gail keeps us informed of who is in the hospital, who is in rehab, whose loved one is in peril and all who need our prayers. The point is to limit Gail’s prayer list to the barest necessity to be on it.
Ray and Gail Adams
Once asked why I went
into nursing so late in
my career life, I answered:
Thirteen years of caregiving for an Alzheimer patient in taught me that there was more to know and that I had better learn it. Actually, a lot of what I learned about nutrition and supplements was practiced by Rose M. Girard. Much of what I share with you on this blog, I learned from Rose.
When I first came to live-in with Rose and manage her small marina in Cape May, Rose was 83 years. I can think of any number of memorable quotes, but the one that is most applicable is “Eat your greens.” When Rose planned the meals, a balanced meal contained anything and everything green. Rose’s shopping carts were legendary at the local Acme. They were chocked full of protein and calcium laden carbohydrates. Sometimes, she was pushing one cart and I was following up with a second. She kept an extra freezer in the utility room which was always full of meat protein bought when on sale. And, well, with her physician husband leaving her a marina, there was always fresh fish contributed by the boat tenants through most of the months, even winter, when strippers were running. And the best part: we were within walking distance of the Atlantic Seaboard’s renown Lobster House Restaurant and Fisherman’s Wharf fresh fish market. When her table was not set for meals, it was spread with her coterie of vitamins and supplements; nutrition books and her subscription of Prevention Magazine. I still recall with amazement and awe our first July 4th together:
Rose wanted to see the fireworks on the Delaware Bay. So I bought tickets on one of the local party boats, Big Jim, a double-decked steel-hulled charter boat with an observation deck. Foolish me, I thought Rose would want one of the cabin seats on the first tier, but, no, not Rose. She pointed, “I want to go up there.” And go she did, shinnying right up that steel ladder to enjoy the fireworks in the open air. And at 83!
Rose survived her first broken hip when she tripped over a hassock in the livingroom. That required a simple pin that allowed the bone to knit. But she did not survive the second fall when one of her nephews spun his truck wheels in the parkinglot, creating a foot deep ditch. Before I could get the ditch filled back in, Rose went outside to straighten the garbage cans where the Lower Township MUA thoughtflessly tossed them. That fateful morning, that little voice of warning sent me to an upstairs window, in time to call out to her but not in time to stop her fall. Rose’s hip was shattered this time.
Hip replacement is hard on the elderly. When I got to nursing school, I would be told that the elderly only have a few more years. Well, a few more good years, in Rose’s case.
Her will to live kept me challenged, both in learning her changing nutritional, physical and mental needs. Her last few years were a trial for us both, but Rose wanted to keep going. And so go we did. It was a thrill to see Rose on her stationary cycle at Miracle Fitness. She loved it. And it gave me some time on the equipment also.
Rose Girard cracking her own Lobster House lobster on her 95th birthday
Holy Redeemer, the visiting nursing agency, used to call me the “Miracle Worker” for the many times Rose was sent home from the hospital written off as hospice, if not hopeless. Yet in her own home, she would revive. The nurses thought it was me, and in part, it was. The important thing is, I kept Rose walking and feeling independent. Rose lived to see her 95th birthday.
One of my first nursing assignments with was to fill in on the nursing pool at a leading rehabilitation institute where recovery from hip replacements, knee and shoulder replacements were their reason to be in business. And it is a business. Joint replacements are premium operations that signal painful, agonizing recoveries. They keep we nurses running for pain meds. Replacements are to be prevented by all means and measures. And there are measures one can put in place ̶ starting today with an awareness of the weight our joints are obligated to support. I have weight measures in place, too. Doctors tell me I’m in line for one of those stainless steel knees and I keep telling them: “We shall see.”
Let’s start with “Shaq”
Shaquille "Shaq" O'Neal and Gail Adams
Shaq is 7’1”, weighs 325 lbs and was born in 1972. At 38 years, that makes him the oldest player in the NBA. Shaq can eat anything he wants to. Shaq will burn it off on the basketball court.
Gail is 5’8”, weighs 165 in this picture, just attended her 50th reunion from high school and does not play basketball. What are Gail’s options if she wants to stay at that weight?
Curb the portions
It is time to go for quality, not quantity. Many seniors get caught up in a tradition of preparing and eating meals with a growing family, or what I call “competitive eating.”You can no longer keep pace with the kids or race your sweetheart for those second helpings.
Fat tissue increases while lean mass reduces until the 6oth year. Total body fat as a proportion of the body’s composition doubles between 25 and 75 years. That translates to mean a loss of muscle mass. We can depend less and less on our muscles to burn fat. Exercise takes on a different dimension in the senior years; seniors need to exercise to maintain muscle tone. Muscle tone insures a continuity of balance and flexibility.
Fat cell division
When a fat cell grows to 3X its normal size, it splits. “How much fat a cell can handle before it divides varies from person to person.
“You can shrink the size of your fat cells but you can’t shrink the number.” Susan McQuillan M.S., R.D. www.CalorieLab.com
“How to shrink a fat cell?”
Easy. Quit feeding it what it likes to eat.
You know the list:
Commercial salad dressings
Butter, margarine and mayonnaise
Flavored coffee creamers
Red meat and ham
Fried eggs with bacon and sausage
Farm-raised fatty fish
Whole milk and cheese
Commercial baked goods
Chips and most commercial dips
Pancakes with syrup
Ice cream…chocolate…the list goes on and on
A doctor’s secret, “Burn fat with calcium”
“Simply by getting adequate calcium in our diet, four out of five of us could lose the extra weight.” Michael B. Zemel, PhD. Professor, Nutrition Institute of University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Monitor your calcium
Americans getting less than the minimum RDV (Recommended Daily Value) of 255mg of calcium are 84% more likely to be overweight than those who take the highest average level ̶ 1,346mg.
The number of total body cells gradually reduces over the decades. This leaves fewer functional cells. The loss is largely attributed to bone. It is important to keep up your calcium intake.
If the body does not get its RDV of calcium, it will leach it from your store of protein. In other words, your bones and muscle. And your heart is a muscle. The more muscle you lose, the less lean body mass you have to burn fat.
Calcium does more than keep your bones strong. Without sufficient calcium, your heart won’t beat, your hormones won’t regulate your metabolism, your blood won’t clot and your neurotransmitters won’t transmit. If your diet is deficient in calcium, your body will manufacture calcitriol. Calcitriol aids your intestines in absorbing what little calcium is ingested. Here’s the fat trap: the more calcitriol the body produces, the more fat stores in the cells. As we now know, fat cells at capacity can produce more fat cells.
It is thought that food sources provide the best source of calcium due to the complex mixture of unknown components that interact, including the amino acid leucine. Leucine cannot be successfully manufactured as a supplement. Leucine is thought to increase the ability of the muscles to burn fat. Source: Bottom Line’s SUPER HEALING Unlimited, 1,739 Remarkable Secrets from the World’s Greatest Health Experts.
Three servings of low fat milk, cottage cheese and yogurts are excellent dairy sources. Also, kale and collard greens for the lactose intolerant and vegans. The South Beach Diet recommends skim milk ricotta cheese. Dribbled with dark chocolate sauce it makes a surprising satisfying desert.
Appease fat cravings
Food cravings are generated by low levels of critical nutrients. Your brain is trying to tell you something. Curb fat cravings by minimally satisfying that need. Eat a small avocado dressed with olive oil and/or snack on nuts.. Walnuts are good for your heart and brazil nuts are great for the prostrate.
The almighty almond
Almonds are the best whole food source of vitamin E, in the form of alpha-tocopherol, which may help prevent cancer.
This little nut is also loaded with minerals like magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, as well as lots of healthy fiber. And don’t forget calcium and folic acid – they’re in there too! 20-25 almonds (approximately one ounce) contain as much calcium as 1/4 cup of milk, a valuable tool in preventing osteoporosis.
One ounce of almonds contains 12 percent of your daily allowance of protein. For more on the the mighty almond, go to NutsForAlmond.com. I keep nuts in my freezer. Every time I open my refrigerator in compulsive search of a snack, I make it convenient to snack on nuts.
Coming in February: Salt of the earth
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Princeton’s itinerant prophet comes home for Christmas on Palmer Square
Westminster Choir College with featured soloist Billy Budweiser in red pompom hat
Beer as a “good thing”
When I was a child, my mother, Mary Alice, was institutionalized for tuberculosis for six months. I had to stand on the lawn of the sanitarium and look up at her behind a glass solarium wall. That was the limits of any familial contact. It made me sad to see her cry out of separation from her children. Mom was pregnant at the time. Adamant, she staunchly refused to let doctors take the child she carried. Comfort came when I learned Mom was under doctor’s orders to drink a beer a day for medicinal purposes. Beer, in my young association, was going to restore her to my brother and I, along with our new baby brother.
I spent Christmas Day 1983 riding around Princeton New Jersey’s US One with my friend Meryl and her husband looking for a diner that was open. What I really wanted to do was go into New York with Dotty and her daughters to feed the homeless in Manhattan’s shelters. But Meryl was such a dear ditherhead, I didn’t want to hurt Meryl’s feelings. So we drove round and round with Meryl’s husband getting more irritated by the mile, to Denny’s and Friendly’s and Howard Johnson’s and even Bob’s Big Boy without as much as a cup of coffee after chapel services. Patience was about to snap, his with her, until I told him the Nassau Inn on Palmer Square was open for brunch, which they weren’t. When Bill pulled up, I jumped out with all kinds of flighty excuses to my friend, Meryl. When I looked back, I saw that triumphant smile on her husband’s face. Upstairs, I sat on my single bed, grateful that I had no husband to bully me. I vowed:
Next year I won’t worry about anyone’s feelings but mine. Next year I’ll feed a homeless bum or two!
Christmas Day Eve 1985 was unseasonably warm. Dottie and her daughters had moved away. Taking the train into New York City all alone to feed the homeless seemed no fun at all. So I helped Guy in the flower shop downstairs, getting the last of the centerpieces ready for all the Princeton dinner parties. I had just stepped out onto the square for a breath of bleak and gray holiday air. The BoyScouts were hawking the last of their Christmas trees in front of the post office; the shops were all garlanded with with red velvet ribbons laced in long-needled pine, over each and every spanking white door. The Candy Shop. Crabtree and Evelyn’s. The Wine and Game. But the Flower Shop was the most festive of all. In the window the a spectacular poinsettia centerpiece I had helped Guy make. I addressed my complaint to the sky, “This isn’t Christmas! Christmas is supposed to be white!”
Suddenly big fat flakes started to fall. I just stood there, feeling the snow get caught in my lashes and and blur my vision of the poinsettia, wishing I could afford it. But there was no left-over money for Christmas this year ̶ no money at all, not for a poinsettia or a tree or even a chicken for Christmas dinner. But at least, there was the gift of these big fat flakes coming down at a faster and faster rate. Then Guy came out of his shop in a hurry to lock up. In his laden arms was the centerpiece. “Here, it’s yours. The customer never picked up and I can’t wait. There’s storm warnings up. A blizzard is coming!” Astounded, I protested, but Guy prevailed, “I insist. I couldn’t have let my staff go early without your help. Besides, I can’t bear looking at another poinsettia until next year. Merry Christmas!
So there I was, balancing this huge centerpiece while struggling with the key to my mailbox when the mailman entered the lobby. “Here’s another card from your Mother. That ought to cheer you up! Did you get the oranges she had shipped all the way from Florida?” Yes, I said, “Yes, I did.” The mailman prattled merrily on, “She must love you a lot,” he said. “Yes,” I said, “Yes, she tries.” Tucked in the card was a personal check for twenty dollars. “Buy yourself a nice Christmas dinner. Love, Mom.”
My poinsettia safely upstairs, I was soon taking a shortcut across the Square when one of the BoyScouts hailed me. “Would you like a Christmas tree?” I thanked him but told them I was on my way to Davidson’s Market before it closes. “Maybe on my way back if I have any money left over.” But the second BoyScout said, “We’re not trying to sell you one, we’re trying to give you one.”
”Give me a tree?”
“Which one would you like?” the first BoyScout spun tree after tree for my approval.
“Oh, my, they’re all so beautiful, but they’re way too big for my tiny studio.”
”No problem, we’ll top you one,” the first BoyScout offered. Any tree of my choice would be tagged and waiting for me when I came back from my grocery shopping. It seemed a shame to cut its top off, but then, that inner voice reasoned with me: It’s already been cut. So I finally chose the top of a tall blue spruce. Now it was off to Davidson’s to lean over the meat compartment and deliberate between a Christmas ham and a Christmas turkey.
Why not a Christmas duck?
A duck? For one? I’ve never roasted a duck in my life, I argued with that inner voice. Why, I wouldn’t know where to begin… But the inner voice won again: Your grandmother began with a rolling pin. That’s right, she did! I watched her once. She rolled it to break down and eliminate all the fat.
So I did. I took the duck to the checkout counter as instructed. Davidson’s cashed my Christmas check and I spent the entire twenty-five dollars on a frozen duck and the whole Christmas works. Now I had a gorgeous centerpiece on my table, a tree soaking in my bathtub, a duck defrosting on my tiny kitchen counter, and the Westminster Choir Chapel singing carols on the square, and I even had a white Christmas Eve. Yet it still didn’t feel like Christmas. Something or someone was definitely missing…
The forecast blizzard never arrived. By morning, only remnants of the snow remained. After Christmas service at the chapel, I took my tennis racquet down to the abandoned University courts and hit against the backboard. I must have hit a hundred well-placed shots when that wee-small voice within me interrupted, That’s enough now. Put down your racquet. Whenever I ignore that inner voice of instruction, things go all-kinds-of-wrong. So I packed up my tennis balls and walked up the hill towards the chapel. “Now what?” My instructions were Sit on the steps and rest. So I sat. And rested. “Now what?” I waited. And then I saw him, trudging up Nassau Street, his backpack slung over his aging shoulders, his unmistakeable white beard and ponytail showing beneath a blue knitted cap topped with a bright red pom-pom. “Oh, no, not Billy Budweiser!” And I ran for the holly trees of Firestone Library. Immediately that inner voice reprimanded. Coward! Show thyself! I pleaded, “Oh, please, it’s Christmas…” Now, before he sees you’re hiding from him. So what else could I do? I stepped out from behind the hollies and waved him down with my tennis racquet. And here he came, straight for me, picking up his step with his hand extended. “Well, hey there! Merry Christmas. What were you doing in the holly bush? Loose your tennis balls?”
“Gee, Billy. Where’ve you been? The town’s been quiet for months on end.”
“Me?” He laughed in his weathered voice. Every syllable Billy uttered had a good-natured wraspy laugh in it. “Why I’ve been to the laundromat. I’m one-hundred percent washed and dried. Cloroxed too. Even found a gas station window open where I could crawl in and shampoo my pony tail. Shampooed the rest of me while I was at it. I’m clean as a whistle and ready for my Christmas dinner.”
“Oh?” I said, jealous, “You have an invitation?” Billy’s answer fired back, “Not yet but I’m prepared to go when called!..Say, can I carry your racquet for you? I’m headed your way. Sort of thought I sit at the taxi stand and rest my geezer. See who passes by and thinks kindly on an old salt like me.”
When asked where he had been besides the laundromat, Bill gestured the whole wide world with my racquet. “Oh, everywhere. Up to Canada. Down to Washington D.C. Out to California and over to Gloucester. Saaayyyy, that’s the place for you. You’d like Gloucester. They’ve got lots of artists up that way, all standing around with their easels painting the same boat.” Just what the world needed, I remarked, “Another artist painting the same picture.” But I liked his hat and said so. Bill took it off so I could admire it. His thinnish, strandish hair betrayed how old his young-at-heart was.
“Some real nice lady in Gloucester knitted it for me. Fisherfolk, you know. Real nice people, fisherfolk. God-fearing, too.”
“So why did you come back to this town with such good God-fearing people where you were?” Billy thought about it. “You know, I don’t know. Well, now, yes, I do! It’s on account of all the places I’ve been, it’s Princeton that’s been the kindest to me. Sort of like coming home for the Holidays!” he laughed. We had arrived at the taxi bench overlooking Palmer Square. “Say, can you sit with me a spell? Tell me what’s been going on. I bet you never even noticed I was missing.”
“Sure, I did. The town’s been quiet. Wasn’t anyone bellowing up and down Nassau Street, keeping everyone awake all night.”
“I do that?” said Bill, astonished.
“You sure know how to disturb the peace,” I retorted.
“Speaking of peace, did you hear me last night, singing Christmas carols with the choir, right there on the Square? Imagine me and Silent Night.” That choir director said I had to leave but the kids didn’t mind.
“I’ve really got to go, Bill.”
But Bill kept right on talking. “So I foxed that sour puss director. I had the best Christmas Eve of all. You know where I spent it? Right down there,” he pointed, “on the Square, right under the community Christmas tree. Oh, it was awesome, all them colored lights. Puts a man to sleep in a jiffy, counting all the red ones aloneI almost got away but Bill laid a gentle but nonetheless restraining hand.
“That’s some view you’ve got from your window. With Santy Clause disappearing down your very own chimney…”
“Yes, yes it is.”
“But say, did you see them big flakes yesterday? Came and went. Ground’s too warm yet, I guess. When it’s warm like this, stays kinder to my bones, that’s what. Not much padding left around the old hips. Thank God I made me a pine needle bed.”
“I never thought of that,” I admitted.
“No reason to. You’re young yet. You’ve still got your baby fat.”
“Yes, well, goodbye, Bill. Merry Christmas.”
“It will be hellofva lot merrier if I can find a package store that’s open,” was Bill’s parting laugh.
“Well, if I don’t see you, Happy New Year, Bill,” This time, I managed to disengage myself. As I crossed the Square, I heard the incorrigible Billy Budwieser sing:
Ho, ho, ho, who wouldn’t go? Up on the rooftop, click, click, click, down goes the chimney with good Saint Nick!
The smell of freshly cut evergreen greeted me when I walked back into my apartment. It was quiet. Too quiet. My tree top was where I stashed it, propped in my bathtub. Its stand and decorations remained downstairs in the storage area while I worked up the courage to go down to the underground tunnels all alone. All of Christmas seemed to be on hold. I went to the window and looked out over Palmer Square. The silenced shops below. While I was standing there, staring, the colored lights to the Community Tree came on. I could see him, in the dusk of an early setting sun, still sitting on the bench at the taxi stand, greeting every passerby with his odd, infectious Happy Holiday cheer.
”I can’t leave him there.”
No, you very well cannot.
“It wouldn’t be right. Not while I have all this food.”
True, verily I say to you.
“But he could have bugs. Body lice!”
Didn’t you hear him? He’s squeaky clean. All over.
“He did say he even washed all his clothes. And with Clorox, too. But what if he’s got Gloucester-size roaches in that duffel bag? I hear they grow to awesome size in fishing ports.”
That could present a problem.
“I suppose I could spray the place with all that Amway stuff my friend Meryl makes me buy…”
Surely you safely could.
“Where’s my business cards?”
I marched back up to the taxi stand and presented my business card with instructions that dinner was at seven, prompt, and elicited a promise for his best behavior. “Remember, call first. And you must promise me to be a gentleman.”
“Oh, I will, I will. I know how!”
As I was marching back towards 49J, the entire square heard, loud and clear,
You won’t believe this but I had me a lovely mother once.
There was so much to do in so little time. A tree to trim. A stand to find. A duck to press oranges to zest. Fresh cranberries to string while the duck slowly roasted. Last year’s white popcorn garlands emerged from storage so yellowed that they looked freshly buttered. Fine. That meant there was more time to wrap and trim and roll and roast.
Somehow the duck a l’orange got glazed. The broccoli got steamed The rutabaga and carrots pureed perfectly together in the processor while my hands stayed slightly ahead of the next anticipated ingredient. Cooking out of the subconscious, I call it, whipping and cooling and setting a table in advance of yeast rolls rising in a 350° oven like a dependable tide at ten minutes of seven.
“Perfection!” I slapped my forehead: “Dessert! I forgot dessert!”
The doorbell rang. It was the elderly neighbor from next door with a plate full of gift-wrapped cookies. There was still time to build a fire in the fireplace before the phone rang promptly at seven.
“I’m practically here! I’m at the Nassau Inn dipping in the wassail bowl and they’re just about to show my butt the door. I’m ready for my Christmas dinner.”
No sooner had he hung up than Billy was at my door, big and boisterous, full of wassail, holiday cheer and carrying a six-pack of premium Coors. “Say, it sure smells good in here.”
“Yes, and I see you brought your name-sake.” I said.
“Oh, no, this is not Budweiser. It’s Coors. I never look a gift-horse in the mouth.”
“Bill, you promised…”
“It’s for later. To help me sleep. I call it my sex substitute.”
“Yes, well, I drink warm milk myself. Hand it over…”
“Soon as I get my here boots off. Did I tell you it sure smells good in here?”
“The beer, Bill,” I reminded.
“I’ll just leave it in my pack out in the hall.”
“Your backpack might not be safe left out in the hall..”.
“Who would steal my petty stuff? Besides, According to the Borough Police, Princeton’s petty thief is in here.”
I seated him at the table set for two. He was my jolly captive guest, squeezed between the lighted tree and the wall. Bill regaled me throughout dinner with tales of his intellectual parents, a mother who was a painter and his father, a renown architect and how he was ashamed of them because he wanted normal parents like the other boys had. He rambled on about two wealthy wives; his days as a baseball player, first in farm league and then in the minors; about how hard-ball pitching came too easy for him, so he became a fire-fighter instead…
“Yes siree, baseball was the game for me, but I sure liked climbing up them ladders better.”
“More duck, Bill?”
“Don’t mind if I do! Say, what do you do to the broccoli that leaves it soft but not mushy?”
“So what happened to the two wealthy wives?” I wanted to know.
“I told them I wasn’t the marrying kind. But they wouldn’t listen. They were real fixer-uppers. Don’t worry about them. Wherever they are, they’re looking out for themselves. A man’s not worth much in those upper crust circles. My looks gave out about the same time as my back. Turned out to be a damn good dishwasher, though.” Bill leaned forward in confidence. “You want to know the secret of my success? I attack a stack of dishes like I as putting out a two-alarm fire, that’s how. But you know what happens to a good dishwasher in life? He never gets off the dishes, that’s what!”
”How about finishing the last of this rutabaga and carrot puree?”
“I’m sure getting my vitamin A today, aren’t I?”
“Sometimes there’s justice in this world. One day I was disrespectful to my mother. I refused to do the dishes so she could finish a painting. And you know what else? There’s justice in this world. So you know what I became in my old age? — a dishwasher, that’s what. I did my best work right here in Princeton, at the Colonial Restaurant on Witherspoon Street before it burned down.”
“You didn’t have anything to do with that fire, did you?”
“Me? No! I was a crackerjack fireman. If the Colonial hadn’t fired me, I would have been there to put it out.”
“That fire started in the kitchen in the middle of the night.”
“Where do you think I slept.”
“Is there any more of that l’orange sauce?”
“We decimated the duck, Bill.”
Bill pointed with his fork, “Right here, on my broccoli will be fine.” He savored a bite. “Delicious, even better on broccoli.”
Bill had this odd and disconcerting habit of bringing his forefinger up to his mouth and pushing his dentures into place while he ate.
“My chompers, you know. I’ve lost so much weight, my teeth don’t fit.”
“Well, you won’t be losing any weight tonight. I’m sorry I don’t have any wine to serve.”
“No, you’re not!” Bill laughed, “But, say, they made good pizza at that Colonial, didn’t they? Cook let me fill the pizza orders when Svetlana Stalin called in for take-out.”
“Stalin’s daughter liked pizza?”
“Heck, yes! With pepperoni! I used to shape the little pepperoni slices into sickles and place them all over like little mushroom crescent moons. My mother would have been proud of me. I inherited her artistic genes. Here I was, her bad Billy Boy, wooing the daughter of dictator. Wouldn’t that be an arty addition to the family?”
“Was your mother a big fan of Stalin?”
“No, but it didn’t matter. Svetlana rejected all my proposals.”
“Well, sure. Why not? I figured with her Communist background and all my attempts to defect, it was a marriage made in Marxist heaven.”
Bill’s most entertaining story of all was his undeterred ardor for Svetlana Stalin.
“I sent her red roses every Friday. Let me tell you, that was one expensive courtship. I mean two dozen roses on a dishwasher’s pay?!”
“Town gossip is she moved here when she divorced her architect husband because he didn’t make enough American money.”
“No wonder she never gave our romance a chance! But, you know, the first time they let me deliver pizza to her house, she put a big five-dollar tip in my hand, like this…”
Bill placed an imaginary bill in Artist’s hand and closed my fingers over it.
“Are you trying to hold my hand?”
“I’m demonstrating how loving she was. So I reciprocated. I tried to kiss her.”
“On her hand?”
“Hell, no! Smack on her lips. If I closed my eyes, she didn’t look so much like her father.”
“Bill, she was just being kind…”
“Kind?” Bill contested, “There wasn’t a compassionate bone in her whole Bolshevik body. Why, she slammed the door on all my ardor! After that, I would leave her pizza on the steps and ring the bell and hide behind a tree. But she always knew it was me.”
“Must have been those pepperoni sickles and the mushroom crescents.”
“She would pick up the pizza and go back inside to get another restraining order on me. I wasn’t allowed to deliver pizza within five miles of her house.”
“ You could get your delivery route back. Svetlana’s no longer around.”
“Do you think she loved me out of great resistance?”
“More like great distance. She defected back to Russia.”
“You know? My heart must have known that! I came close to following her last summer!”
Such romance called for more coffee. “Cookie, Bill?”
“I get dessert, too? Oh, boy, oatmeal! My favorite!”
Bill was munching on his third cookie when he was suddenly, silently interrupted.
It’s time, Bill.
“I gotta go.”
“What for, Bill? Are you being called?”
“More like being sent.”
“But I haven’t given you your present yet.”
“Oh, you don’t have to do that for me. But what you could do is let me leave my transcript for safekeeping. It’s bound to put you to sleep. Does me. It’s right outside the door in my pack. I’ll get it….It’s from my political asylum trial in Canada last summer.”
I fanned its pages. “But it’s thirty-two pages long!”
“I argued my own case.”
“There’s a few interjections by the judge here and there.”
“She was very motherly. Made me feel like I was back in juvenile court.”
“But, Billy, it’s page thirty-two before you let her state a point.”
“Judge: Mr. Budweiser, am I to presume that is your legal name? No answer. Judge: What evidence can you introduce into testimony that you will face political persecution if and when you should return to the United States? Mr. Budweiser: Well, well, two broken wrists, Your Honor. Judge: What persecution do you presently anticipate if you return to the United States? Mr. Budweiser: Why, they’ll put me in jail without a jury trial and they’ll break the other wrist for me. Then I won’t be able to wash dishes anymore.”
But Bill had his point to make, too.
“Right, and when I can’t work, I’ll be forced to steal and they’ll put me in the workhouse for real.”
“But Billy, the judge was dying to get something concrete on the United States. You’re not helping her very much.”
“Well, she wanted me to speak against my country. I can’t do that!”
“It states right here, on page thirty-two, a resounding, This case is concluded. So she sent you back?”
“No, I did that on my own. There I was, a free man, wandering the docks of Toronto, and guess what? My ship came in. A Russian ship. And I could get on it. I made beer buddies with the sailors and they said they could use me in the boiler room. I could work my way to Svetlana Land!”
“You defected for real?”
“I’m getting to that. So, there I was, thinking love and roses, with my gear stashed on board and that darn voice —”
“You hear voices?”
“Well, no, not voices exactly, more like someone doing my thinking for me.”
“I think I know what you mean.”
“Hey! I put up one-hell of an intellectual fight. I stood right there on that dock and protested too! That’s when I knew when that voice had won. It was that voice, deciding. The whole political asylum trial was a farce.”
“I think the judge knew that, Bill.”
“Took her thirty-two pages, though!” Bill laughed. “I guess my beer should be cold by now. Nothing like a cold brewsky when it’s twenty degrees on the ground.”
“Here’s your courage, Bill.” I handed Bill his six-pack of Coors and a sleeping bag I found in storage with the red ribbon from the poinsettia wrapped around it. He also departed with a Honey Bell orange and a bottled water.
“A bedroll! Say, this is a kindness to my old bones. Gets hard on those old benches down at the Dinky Station. I turn this way, I turn that. Nothing works. But that’s where I spend New Years where my friends know to find me. It’s my tradition. Princeton loves tradition.”
Bill thanked me for the most nutritious Christmas dinner he had ever had, and was gone, adding humbly before he left:
“How did you guess I like my Dutch courage cold? You know, if I don’t get drunk, I don’t know what I’m supposed to say.”
That night, like many nights, colder nights, I would hear the voice of Billy Bud working the Square, up and down Nassau Street, cruising the sidewalks of old Witherspoon — mirthless, merciless, chilling the air as cold as a quarter, roaring his warnings like an inebriated John the Baptist. Warning an entire town that worshiped money.
WHO ARE YOU FOR?…WHAT ARE YOU FOR?…HOW WILL YOU ANSWER ON THAT DAY?.. WHO DID YOU SERVE?.. ME OR MANNA?
“Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.” Dave Barry
Bill had the right idea considering his height, weight, age and circumstance. For purposes of illustration, Bill would probably consume a six-pack of Budweiser within the time frame of three hours.
Calorie content of one can of Budweiser beer:
1 Budweiser Beer (12 fl oz) contains 145 calories
1 Budweiser Bud Light (12 fl oz) contains 110 calories
1 Budweiser Bud Ice (12 fl oz) contains 145 calories
It takes 23 minutes to walk off the calories in one 1 Budweiser Beer. Given that Bill had no car, beer gave him the energy to walk the streets and campus of Princeton for 3 hours without “refueling.” Beer kept him from becoming dehydrated, a chronic condition of the elderly. Geriatrics commonly do not consume enough liquids if incontinence is a conscious or unconscious concern. However, there is a kickback to becoming dependent upon beer alone to quench one’s thirst.
Why follow beer with a water chaser?
The problem of excessive beer consumption is that one typically never feels thirst and therefore drinks insufficient water. Beer is 30% water and a diuretic, an agent that increases urine output. Diuretics are used to treat hypertension, congestive heart failure and edema. However, the side effects of excessive diuretic action can result in potassium depletion, low blood pressure and dehydration. Moreover, beer does not guarantee the flushing of uric acid which beer produces.
About uric acid
Uric acid is a chemical created when the body breaks down substances called purines. Purines are found in some foods and drinks, such as liver, anchovies, mackerel, dried beans and peas, wine and beer.
Uric acid is a normal part of metabolism in breaking down protein by-products called purines. Normally uric acid dissolves in the blood and is eliminated by the urine (thus the increased need to “pee.”) But not all beer-drinkers have the same chemical constitution to conveniently eliminate uric acid. Overweight men and women are susceptible to gout. Gout, long thought to be a man’s affliction at a rate of 2 to 1, gives evidence that women past menopause are more and more afflicted with what is a painful accumulation of sharp crystal shards, called tophi, that lodge in joints and surrounding connective tissue. Gout initially ravages the big toe and is no damn fun, so…remember:
Uric acid can be managed by eating foods high in Vitamin C.
Drinking plenty of water in conjunction with beer consumption is requisite to flushing uric acid from the body via the kidneys ̶ which is why Bill left with an orange and a bottle of water.
Beer as mere “empty calories?”
Beer, unlike milk, is not fortified. The plenitude of vitamin Bs that occur naturally in brewers yeast do not appear to survive the commercial brewing process. However, a can of “Bud” does contribute to the current Daily Value of the Major Minerals:
- Calcium 1.2mg
- Magnesium 2.1mg
- Phosphorus 3.9mg
- Potassium 9.8mg
- Sodium 0.9mg.
When compared to the generally accepted RDI (Daily Recommended Intake) for Calcium (1000mg), it is clear that neither man nor woman can live by beer alone.
Neither vitamins nor minerals provide energy. Carbohydrates, however, do provide energy.
It was formerly thought that beer contained maltose, a sugar with the highest glycemic index but it was more recently discovered that the brewing process destroyed the maltose. A 12-ounce glass of light beer actually contains 6 grams of carbs while a can of regular beer carries 13 grams of carbs.
Pros and cons of beer
Beer is high in arginine, an amino acid that is a building block for the protein coating to the cell wall of the Herpies Virus. Carriers of the Herpies Virus Simplex 1 and 2 should avoid beer, along with chocolate, peas and nuts.
Beer as diabetes-friendly. Researchers at Boston Medical Center have found that mild to moderate beer and wine consumption is associated with a lower risk of hyperinsulinemia, or having too much insulin in the blood. That’s not an invitation for diabetics to go on a binge. Always consult your doctor before adding alcohol to a diabetes diet. Safe upper levels are one drink a day for women and two for men. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer and 5 ounces of wine.
Hops as a future block for prostate cancer?
Hops contain an antioxidant called xanthohumol which inhibits the growth of cancer cells. Researchers at the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg have discovered that xanthohumol blocks the excessive action of testosterone and estrogen. It also helps to prevent the release of a protein called PSA which encourages the spread of prostate cancer.
“Research is still early but in trials we hope to further demonstrate that xanthohumol actively prevents prostate cancer development,” says Clarissa Gerhauser of the Heidelberg centre. If successful, xanthohumol may one day be developed as a cancer-fighting drug.”
However, research has not yet determined how much hops is an effective cancer-fighting antioxidant.
“Hops give beer its bitter flavour, so traditional bitters and ales will contain far more of this substance than light lagers,’ explains Ben McFarland, author of the World’s Best Beers.
A brief global history of Beer
Beer has been with us a long, long, time, is the timely ntroduction to beer comprised by Wikipedia.
Beer is the world’s most widely consumed and probably the oldest of alcoholic beverages; it is the third most popular drink overall, after water and tea. It is produced by the brewing and fermentation of starches, mainly derived from cereal grains—most commonly malted barley, although wheat, maize (corn), and rice are widely used. It passed across Northern Europe with the Norman, Viking and Germanic invaders as early as 3000 BC…
Beer was spread through Europe by Germanic and Celtic tribes…and it was mainly brewed on a domestic scale. The product that the early Europeans drank might not be recognised as beer by most people today. Alongside the basic starch source, the early European beers might contain fruits, honey, numerous types of plants, spices and other substances such as narcotic herbs. What they did not contain was hops…
A final word about hops
Humulus Lupulus (hops) are the flowering cone of a perennial vining plant and a cousin of the cannabis variety.(yes, cannabis!) that typically thrives in climates similar to the ones that grapes do. Hop plants are dioecious,meaning the males and females flower on separate plants — and the female cones are used in the brewing process. Hops are the age old seasoning of the beer, the liquid gargoyles who ward-off spoilage from wild bacteria and bringers of balance to sweet malts. They also lend a hand in head retention, help to clear beer(acting as a natural filter) and please the palate by imparting their unique characters and flavours. Basically,hops put the “bitter” in beer. Source: beeradvocate
On a personal note
I never really developed a taste for beer. But in light of all the emerging medical research on the benefits of hops, I intend to develop one… only I’ll take my “brewski” over shaved ice to insure I’m getting covered with my share of H20.
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