By A Hair-#1 of 40 Grows

Last Spring while scrolling through my Facebook feed I noticed a pictorial essay of women with arms raised, their unshaven armpits displayed. Just as images of women’s bodies portrayed in all their authentic glory evoke a tribalistic pride, I felt the sense of freedom apparent in their eyes. Immediately I typed “How powerful!” and hit “enter” without a thought. I’m free, too!

I began warming to the idea of not shaving my pit hair when a week before an acquaintance on the barstool next to me leaned in and whispered, “Ya know… she doesn’t shave her armpits”, as if imparting a dark dangerous secret about a young woman we know and like. Unfiltered and Budweiser loose, I laughed and said, “Who gives a shit?” Nudges already sprouted, the online troll of a misogynist fertilized my curiosity with , “KSS why don’t you just grow a beard” in response to my support of the hairy women.

What was so magical about armpit hair? And how long did it have to grow for my powers to activate?

Besides a dark stubble, I haven’t met my armpit hair since it was blonde, prepubescent and fine. Shaving was a requisite of becoming a grown woman, at least in my mind. I can still see myself at 15, enjoying the ritual. Cultural definitions of beauty widened a fraction during my youth and allowed for new dramatic, artistic expressions of self (think David Bowie, Prince, and Motley Crue).

In 2019, I find myself in a time of flexible inclusiveness, with rigid labels fading into history. Thanks to millions of wise women and brave men before me, I feel more free to try new things and new ways of living than ever before. Shaving was not an important issue to me, but Dang!, it sure is important to some people. Seeking to understand why, at least somewhat, (MOSTLY for a chance at Samson-style magic), I used this summer as my lab.

#1 Grow-not shaving my pits

What I learned:

  • Surprisingly, hair in my pits made me less funky this summer, even with switching to a natural rose-oil deodorant.
  • Perhaps armpit hair created new synapses in my brain, or maybe when I tried something different, I grew through experience. Whatever the case, this choice added to my body acceptance by making shaving purely optional.
  • I AM MAGICAL! I feel more powerful in my body now that I allowed myself to be uncomfortable, then settle into a reality where shaving is purely my choice, rather than doing what I’ve always done because I was trained to do so.

This is my first experience/choice/”Grow” out of 40 I intend to curate by the end of 2019. New experiences expand my understanding and the potential for fun, laughter, and friendship is endless. I invite you to join me for #40grows to experience growth through new habits, new food, new thoughts, meeting new people, new adventures, new anything that takes you out of your bubble of comfort. The point? To enrich our lives and fertilize our brains.

 

 

Walking & Gawking in Ireland – Part 3

Gawking at Blarney Castle was a slow process.  We arrived at The Spaniard late for lunch with the only other patrons a few men visiting the bartender.  From the yelling and laughing I surmised they were good friends.

Lovely place to eat and drink on The Spaniard's bar patio

The Spaniard’s bar patio graced by a handsome German man

We sat on the patio in the sunshine enjoying pints and the view from The Spaniard’s lofty location on a curvy road snaking up the Kinsale hillside.  Jim had fresh fish and home-cut chips, while I gave in to a Cajun chicken wrap.  Complimenting most of our meals was the standard bit of greens tossed in a light vinaigrette.

Tasty lunch at The Spaniard in Kinsale

Tasty lunch at The Spaniard in Kinsale

During our respite at The Spaniard we noticed a good number of vehicles with deep scratches or dents on the passenger side and mirrors torn off, all driven by local folks.

It made us feel more comfortable about the hedge scratches on our rental, which was brand new when we picked her up.

 

We left The Spaniard refreshed and drove on High Road to Charles Fort, an English 17th century  star-shaped fort which once guarded Kinsale Harbor.  The walls packed with turf, they were almost impregnable to cannon fire.

Charles Fort on Kinsale Harbor

Charles Fort on Kinsale Harbor

During the Williamite wars William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II at Charles Fort by approaching from the land side and laying siege for 13 days, finally breaching after 3 days of steady cannon fire on a single spot of the outer wall.  My most important lesson of the tour was do not ask questions about William of Orange if you want to keep your friends in The Republic.

Inside Fort Charles

Inside Fort Charles

We wandered the fort after our tour silently taking in the panoramic vistas and the sailboats of Kinsale in the distance.  Ireland once again struck us dumb, smiling nostalgically even though we had not left yet.

Charles Fort

Back at our hotel we laid our heads down for a mere half hour before Kinsale’s pubs called to us to come play.  We found The Sea Captains at The Armada, a duo who played the banjo, acoustic guitar and Irish whistle.  We settled on Caesar salads with warm, dense brown bread, and a few pints for dinner.  The Armada is one of the few pubs that served us beer at our table, in which case it is entirely appropriate to go against the standard and leave a fat tip.  As I listened to The Sea Captains tears began to roll down my face.  I was actually at an Irish pub listening to two Irishmen play after visiting Blarney castle, eating well-prepared, flavorful, and fresh food in Ireland, hiking the grounds of a star-shaped fort, and eating the best brown bread I tasted so far.  My tears were happiness overflowing and I took a deep breath and told myself “remember this, remember this”.

Irish Flag flying at Charles Fort

Irish Flag flying at Charles Fort

View over Kinsale Harbor

View over Kinsale Harbor

Charles Fort

Expansive grounds of Fort Charles

Expansive grounds of Fort Charles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking & Gawking in Ireland – Part 2

Leaving Glendalough we wound our way through the Wicklow mountains to the Hollywood Inn, where we were introduced to the Hurling Finals and learned a few Irish turns of phrase not mentioned in guide books.

Great food, beer & patrons at the Hollywood Inn

Great food, beer & patrons at the Hollywood Inn

Ravenous from hiking about, I dug into fish and home-cut chips, fascinated by the muscular men on the field balancing a tiny ball on short clubs while running, hitting the ball and being hit by it, all with no protective gear, but plenty of blood and bandages.  The excitement rivaled a Superbowl party and Hollywood Inn was more than I hoped for with an uneven stone floor, heavy dark wood , a stone courtyard, tasty fresh food and superb service.  Our first day in the Irish countryside was a success, now we had a real drive.

Bolstered by a hamburger he described as “very lean”,  Jim drove us on narrow back roads to Kinsale, a quaint harbor town in County Cork, where we stayed at the Actons Hotel overlooking the harbor.

Actons Hotel in Kinsale, County Cork

Actons Hotel in Kinsale, County Cork

Our TomTom was set to avoid toll roads, which made each trip a bit longer and more scenic than motorways.  We had no trouble finding “toilets”, a convenient petrol station in many towns we passed through.

Billy, our bartender in the lounge at Actons, patiently explained how children in Ireland begin their first day of school with a lunch box, a backpack, and a hurling stick.  An older gentleman at the bar put us through a course of Irish dialect in a descriptive telling of a helicopter ride over County Tipperary that his daughter gifted him with on a recent birthday.  They both asked what we liked most about Ireland thus far.  I said I loved the water everywhere, especially the streams flowing down mountains and bubbling over rocks.  The old man said, “Ahhh, that’s the piss!”, then laughed open-mouthed as did we.  I told him I also like the potatoes, they were better than at home.  He said, “Ahhh, yes the new potatoes are in, but don’t eat the chickens!”.  Billy told us of growing up in Kinsale and said he would like to visit the Wicklow Mountains someday.  Huge sprays of Asiatic lilies and eucalyptus graced tables throughout the hotel while small bouquets of hydrangea and roses adorned each stall in the lobby bathroom.  Our room was modern  and bright with clean lines and a warm breeze blew through a tall unscreened, tilted window.  Sailboats rocked in the moonlit harbor.  We slept deeply.

Kinsale Harbor

Kinsale Harbor

 

After our first day of venturing we had a true appreciation for a full Irish breakfast, which consisted of an array of juices, fruit, pastry, cereal, breads, cheeses and smoked salmon.  We ordered eggs and sausage and the plate unnecessarily came with white and black pudding and a grilled tomato.  Each day seemed as though it may be the one to try  the pudding, but I never did chance it, afraid my stomach might upset our plans.  We walked around Kinsale’s colorful streets while our breakfast settled before taking off for Blarney Castle.

Kinsale, Ireland

Colorful Kinsale

Colorful Kinsale

Blarney Castle was THE castle of our trip and we took our time exploring all the nooks and scary crannies.  Stone stairs spiraled up to the stone with a rope on one side to hold on to.  As we ascended the walls grew closer and the old man in front of us stopped in fear, the opposite of my typical run through it reaction.  Voices filtered up from the stairs and signaled a group coming up behind us.  I felt trapped already, barely able to breathe.  I jumped back down two stairs and yelled to my husband that I’d see him when he came down.  My discovery of the family room, murder-hole above the castle’s main entry and arrow shaft views throughout the castle rooms thrilled me more than if I kissed a stone that through my camera zoom looked wet.  Ugh.  But, do not let claustrophobic me deter you.  Blarney Castle

Manicured grounds, gardens and a long carriage house were lush with vintage blooms and beside the castle stood a poison garden planted with castor beans, foxglove and other nefarious, yet pretty, flowers and plants.  We rested and took in the groups of people who dotted the expansive lawn before we perused the gift shop and purchased a watercolour that I would carry on the plane to insure its safe arrival home.  Our breakfast worn off, we headed back to Kinsale and away from tour bus crowds in search of a late lunch and a pint.

One of many Blarney Castle Gardens

One of many Blarney Castle Gardens

stairs

Before the Blarney Stone stairs turn scary

Under Blarney Castle

Under Blarney Castle but not the dungeon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blarney Castle Family Room

Blarney Castle Family Room

Blarney Castle TowerBlarney Castle

Blarney Castle looking at me from the topBlarney Castle window view

Walking and Gawking in Ireland – Part 1

Walking a mile to a mile and a half 4 times a week for 6 weeks prior to our Irish holiday deflated my middle and I lost five pounds, which to me means I can eat potatoes and bread (as long as I keep walking).  You hear wild rumors as you get closer to 40, but I had to experience gaining weight while subsisting on salads and water to accept that my squirrel-like metabolism is dead along with my desire to buy a swimsuit.  It all works out, though, because the rumor about fading endurance is also true. Just a few weeks of a walking routine increased my stamina and made Ireland more enjoyable than I imagined.  I was even able to imitate running to catch our connection at O’Hare.

We spent our first evening in Blessington, a tiny town with a lone little terrier scouting main street just south of Dublin.  On the winding gravel road back to our lodgings we got out of the car to peek at Blessington Lake.

Blessington Lake

Blessington Lake

The next morning we started off for Wicklow National Park and found ourselves stopping often to explore.

A park in Wicklow County

A park in Wicklow County

A park with a fast flowing stream over mossy rocks and a stone bridge called to us, as did a cemetery with Celtic crosses raised high. The faeries moved a bit too quickly for my eyes, but I swear I heard their giggles just beyond the bubbling gurgle of water.

Between my walking routine and Ireland’s vistas, I shed not only fat, but a bit of cynicism.  Dreams coming true take chinks out of a calloused soul.

Walking does not build much muscle and muscle burns fat, so when I stop moving, my metabolism does, too.  Motivation is plentiful on vacation, but hard to find on a snowy frigid days, which is when I discovered that truth.  Almost a decade ago Ireland renewed a walking culture  to combat the country’s growing obesity rate along with national dietary standards.  It is not difficult to persuade an Irishman or woman to go for a stroll and GMO-free counties offer up food that reminded us what food used to taste like.  My theory is that we do not eat as much when it is flavourful because we are more easily sated.

Exploring Wicklow

Exploring Wicklow

Low in the Wicklow Mountains

Low in the Wicklow Mountains

In the hills of Wicklow National Park I stumbled on loose rock and stepped in a deep uninhabited hole, highlighting the need for a walking stick.  Mountain rescue teams are stationed in every area for good reason.

We were off to find St. Kevin’s monastic ruins in Glendalough and mistakenly walked up a steep road to find St. Kevin’s Parish where we lit candles for loved ones in heaven.  There were lovely engraved garden sculptures on the grounds and I suspect my husband knew I would stop at the craft fair on our way back down as I was excited for any opportunity to visit with locals.

St. Kevin's Parish

St. Kevin’s Parish

Gardens at St. Kevin's Welcome Center

Gardens at St. Kevin’s Welcome Center

On the way up, I stopped to rest and take in the gardens  at St. Kevin’s welcome center.  It was all meant to be, I am sure.  Just down the road we found the ruins of St. Kevin’s 6th century monastery.  Raided for centuries by the Vikings, most of the standing ruins date to the 11th and 12th centuries.  A man in a kilt and hose played Uillean pipes, whcih lent a melancholia to the scene, but a little girl yelling at the top of her lungs, “Rapunzel, let down your golden hair!” brushed it away.  A spiritual place, the sun broke through the thick cloud cover just as I offered up my gratitude.

St. Kevin's monastic ruins in Glendalough

St. Kevin’s monastic ruins in Glendalough

Glendalough Beauty

Glendalough Beauty

St. Kevin's ancient church often called "St. Kevin's Kitchen" due to the chimney.

St. Kevin’s ancient church often called “St. Kevin’s Kitchen” due to the chimney.

My husband was usually ahead of me because I am quite the gawker.  Also quite the talker and writer, I have many a story to tell you about Ireland, so I will break our adventure into a few posts. Sláinte!  (Good Health!)

A local giant says goodbye

Frederick Meijer, the founder of “one-stop-shopping” died on Friday at age 91 after suffering a stroke earlier in the day.  Fred, as he was known in the community, was a free-thinker with common sense values who with the help of his friend Earl Holton built a small empire of Meijer retail stores.  In 1934 Fred’s father Hendrick opened a grocery store in Greenville Michigan at which Fred worked 40 hours a week while attending high school and where he met his wife Lena, who was a clerk.  In 1962 Hendrick and Fred opened the first Meijer Thrifty Acres.  Every child that grew up in Michigan after the mid-sixties remembers riding the mechanical horse at the front of every store for a penny.  I just noticed the other day that there is still a horse at the front of my local Meijer and amazingly it still costs a penny to ride.

My admiration for Fred was born when I went to work at a newly opened Meijer store in the late 90’s.  I was hired as an “everything gal” for the store and met Fred several times during those few years.  His favorite ice cream was blue moon and he would hand out pennies to children so they could ride the horse when he came in for a scoop.  He always had a pocket full of pennies.  Occasionally I was asked to deliver gallons of milk and other sundries to Fred’s friends’ homes when they were ill.  I thought it was nice that they shared this personal information with an errand girl, but it was not surprising.  I was such a believer in Fred Meijer and Earl Holton that after a year I became a Hiring and Training Manager.  Earl was President of Meijer and had started at Meijer as a bag boy.  Fred’s Dad Hendrick was not nearly as fond of Earl as Fred was because it bothered him that Earl always had a smoke when he retrieved the grocery carts from the parking lot.  Up until a few years ago every Meijer store had a smoking break room so that customers never saw employees smoking out in the lot.  Earl’s approach to customer service was inspirational.  In the early years a customer asked him for a fry pan that was locked in a storeroom.  The only set of keys were with the store manager who had left for the day, so Earl removed the door from its hinges to get that fry pan for the waiting customer.  Fred empowered his employees and trusted their judgment because he believed that he could not possibly know everything.  Thanks to his wife Lena, all of the store’s bathroom doors swing out so that you don’t have to touch them with clean hands.  I’m surprised that sensible idea hasn’t caught on.  Sam Walton said he got the idea to include groceries in Wal-Mart from Meijer, and several other chains followed suit.

Fred and Lena Meijer kept the company family owned, choosing not to take it public several times over the past 30 years.  Their philanthropy is well-known throughout our community with the Meijer Heart Center and 125-acre Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park standing as living testaments to their generosity.  I am positive that there are many individuals who remember small acts of kindness from Fred.  I will always remember him as the billionaire that did not act like one, who spoke to me as if I was his equal.  It may be cliché, but it is fitting to say that they just don’t make them like Fred anymore.

Happy New Year?

I received a notification informing us that donations to Michigan food banks will no longer be tax-deductible after December 31, 2011, which coincides with the expiration of federal extended unemployment insurance programs.  The expiration of federal extensions will immediately drop 2 million unemployed from the rolls and millions more will follow as state benefits expire in 2012.  Also heralding in the New Year, Michigan will reduce unemployment compensation to a maximum of 20 weeks from 26, the standard of all states for more than 50 years.  Because unemployment compensation is designed only to cover living expenses, it is commonly accepted that all of these monies are promptly dumped back into our lagging economy.  A doom and gloom outlook for the unemployed and needy has been the forecast for a few years now, but the perfect storm of 2012 will add to poverty statistics at a head-spinning rate.  My inclination to seek out positive and humorous perspectives about any given situation has become more challenging, but I think I can do it for the remainder of 2011.

With the holiday season approaching my thoughts predictably turn to what I am thankful for and what Jesus gifted me with on the day he was born.  If there were ever a time to relish the present, it is now.  I plan to savor Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts with my family members who are currently healthy, fed, housed, and humorous.  My focus is on blessings that money cannot buy nor replace, such as loving and supportive friendships and a stable marriage.  We will give what we can, not for the benefit of a tax deduction, but because we appreciate the need to share our bounty now more than ever.  People are pulling together, one of the few upsides to our economic climate, and I believe we will experience more brotherhood in the coming year.  While Christmas commercials and electronic ads are inundating a broke America in a futile effort to pry money from near empty wallets, we will buy gifts from local crafters, small businesses, wineries, and breweries.  2012 promises to be a challenging year, but I plan to have a rocking good time during what remains of 2011 and adopt a Scarlett O’Hara attitude of not thinking about it today.  Helping me to delay thoughts of next year is The Michigan Beer Cellar, the only micro-brewery in Michigan that is also a winery and artisan distillery,  conveniently located only a few blocks away.

The value of a good bartender

There is a tavern on the shores of Bois Blanc Island, Michigan that feels like home.  Barb’s Boblo Tavern is a meeting place for island folks where I can hear the surf of
Lake Huron and drinking is not required, but encouraged.  What are island folks?  Well, the island is a different sort of place and likewise attracts many of the uncommon characters in my novel life story.  There are year-rounders, usually about 60 of them, which live and work on the island and travel to the mainland over an ice bridge in the winter.  There are the seasonal islanders, most of which can tell you stories about their ancestor’s primitve adventures on the island.  Looking for a unique perspective?  Head over to Barb’s and I guarantee you will find one that has nothing to do with your rung on the income ladder and everything to do with your philosophy.  There are more interesting stories to be told within this small population than there are bar hours to hear them, many rich with the history of the island which was opened to settlers in 1884 .  The seclusion from mainstream America lends itself to conversations that simply are not heard in polite company (the best kind), yet people have no problem bringing their kids to the tavern for dinner and a game of pool or shuffleboard.  We all just try to limit the cussing when kids are there.

Barb Schlund, the owner of the Boblo Tavern, has created a comfortable place where someone will offer to drive you to your cabin if they see you have imbibed too much and are unlikely to keep your truck between the trees, and new visitors are welcomed like old friends, at least until they prove themselves non-island material by asking, “what is there to do here?”.  There is no sense in making friends with them because they will not be back.  What there is to do is evident to islanders that appreciate the over 30 square miles of undeveloped forest and dirt roads, many of which are only tracks, and it is not shopping.  Our friend, Dan Reynolds, is a singer/songwriter who also plays the guitar and created a CD of island songs titled This Ain’t the Mainland.    My favorite is “Ring that bell”,  a ditty about a red bell in the tavern that sports a sign “Ring the bell, buy the house a round”.  We are fortunate that Dan is a true islander that plays at the tavern without charging us a dime, because he loves being a part of the fabric of Bois Blanc.  Even if he became famous, he would still play at Barb’s and graciously take requests from drunkards that sometimes ask him to play The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald more than once in an evening (sorry, Dan).

My husband and I have been the only islanders in the tavern and have been two in a crowd of dozens, yet received the same excellent service from a team of bartenders that somehow maintain a laid-back friendly demeanor even when rushing to insure no one runs dry and the food is delivered hot and timely.  Barb is a demanding boss whose
team of bartenders says they love their work because they love her and because she works as hard, if not harder, than they do.  From the expansive menu to the anything-but-weak drinks, her attention to detail is as obvious as her desire to provide her patrons with a clean, inviting place to swap stories.  This past Saturday we, along with approximately forty other people, watched the Michigan State versus Michigan NCAA football game at the Boblo tavern.  Barb and Jen fed us while keeping our drinks full, all without breaking a sweat.  They even visited with many, not out of a sense of good business, but just because they seem to genuinely like their customers.  Barb and her team have taught me that the value of a good bartender reaches far beyond serving drinks, into the familiar ground of caring.  A simple gesture – Barb giving me her bar stool earlier this summer when the bar was packed and standing room only – is only one of many that have led me to love Barb, Jen, Courtney, Tom, and Lani, the most talented, fun-loving, and genuine bartenders/island folks I have ever met. 

Dinner anyone?

Rachael Ray asks the guests on her daytime TV show 3 random questions designed to let the viewer know the celebrity a bit (because they are always unflinchingly honest during a talk show interview).  She asked Sarah Michelle Geller, “If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?”  Ms. Geller responded “Jackie Kennedy Onassis” to which the crowd “ooohhed” and Rachael complimented “good choice”.

I have heard this question before and enjoy hearing the wide variety of answers and reasons why.  Some people feel the weight of it and take a long time to decide, while others quickly answer something like, “Brad Pitt, hands down”.  One of the most popular answers is Jesus; so many people are dying to meet Jesus.  I anticipate a moment beyond the greatest joy I can imagine when I meet my Lord, but I have a gut feeling that it is best to wait until my reservation is called.

As a toddler, I lived with my Mom’s Mom for a while until she died when I was five.  To
people who knew Evelyn she was a strong woman with firm opinions rooted in Christianity and traditional values.  Everyone agrees on that and her tendency to hand out harsh criticism.  I would not say I was spoiled, but I was certainly doted on by my Grandmother and she took wonderful care of me.  I recall much of my time with her and have no mean memories, except when she sent me to bed at 7pm., which seemed malicious at the time.  She went to bed an hour later and got up early to go to work as a housekeeper, so obviously my perspective has changed.  We were fortunate that my
Grandmother’s sister saved a paper she wrote for a 12th grade oration where she spoke about World Peace and won third place.  In this paper my Grandma’s idealism shines
forth as only a young woman’s can, calling for men to love their countrymen and
put an end to war forever.  She talks of Christianity and acknowledges that not all Christians are peacemakers, but all peacemakers are Christians.  I have always doubted the assessments of people who knew her because my experience was
with a loving Grandmother who may have sternly insisted I keep my head still
when she put in ponytails, but looked the other way when I snuck Hershey bars
from the kitchen cabinet.  Her oration paper made me realize that she was much more than the stern first-born child of Rose and Charles, more than the judge of my mother’s young pregnancy, and more than my Grandma.  I think she was likely a complicated woman who may have been bashed about by those strong ideals, but held on nonetheless to what she believed was right.  I would love to have dinner with her and get to know her better.  I think we might have a lot in common and I would like her.

 

 

What can I say about cheese?

I am only one cheese lover with similar reasons for my love as millions of other people who relish cheese: the creamy smooth flavor, the sharp bite that pairs perfectly with red wine, the quick protein-filled snack, the naughty high-fat indulgence, and the perfect addition to most dishes.  In my case, I have equated cheese with privilege since I was a child.  Half-moon chunks of Colby and boxes of Velveeta indicated a flush pay period.  If we had cheese, we likely had pickles and pop, and we would not be eating beans and rice more than once that week.  Mom limited snacks to foods she deemed healthy and that we had on hand.  Cheese always trumped apples.  I served cheese trays with Ritz crackers to appreciative guests at sleepovers.  The only cheese they had at home came in the big boxes doled out by the welfare office.  I am not certain that Velveeta was much different from welfare cheese, but it was definitely a brighter yellow and came from the store, so it was better to us.  An audience of cousins was attentive during readings of my latest stories and poems, giggling and “ooohing” at the right moments as long as there was cheese and Kool-Aid to wash it down.

I have hosted and attended few social gatherings during any season where cheese was not served.  It is not only simple and universal, but daring and unique.  Cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella and parmesan add another level of taste to everyday dishes, are savory eaten alone, and are an easy go-to snack for Moms harried by children whining that they are hungry.  Feta, goat cheese, Havarti, Brie, and blue cheeses are loves that I buy for specific dishes, salads, and special occasions, and the children I know do not like any of them.

As you may have guessed, cheese has been a staple in my home for most of my life.  In my 40’s cheese has taken on a different kind of daring persona, no longer limiting itself to my palate, but lending an air of unpredictable adventure to my digestive tract.  Most of the changes this decade has foisted upon me have come as surprises, but few have been as uncomfortable as the one I suffered after eating a helping of six fried mozzarella sticks.  Apparently the ranch dip did not contain nearly the amount of fiber required to fully digest the cheese and it sat in my gut like a leaden ball for 3 days.  I panicked and railed against another change that would mean me giving up something that I enjoyed.  Would I be able to eat cheese anymore?  After I calmed down and the leaden ball was gone, I did what I always do when threatened by the removal of one of life’s rewarding constants.  I experimented and found that mozzarella was less kind than feta, cheddar, and goat cheese, especially if they were on a salad.  I learned about the importance of fiber after an uncomfortable lecture from my doctor and discovered that by adding a daily ration I could enjoy 3 fried mozzarella sticks without any problems.  Cheese no longer trumps apples every time, but I can have both.  I adjusted to cheese not being an everyday staple, but only because I had to.  Even so, I tempt my digestive limits often, because I have a hunch that the cheese situation may change again in my 50’s.