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Life in a Cabin in The Woods in Southern Illinois

Welcome to my internet sparkhome. Kick off your shoes. Sit in the swing beside me for a while. (Or you can sit on the bench by the fountain next to my "buddy" - LOL.) Enjoy the beautiful fragrant flowers. Listen to the birds sing while they splash in the birdbath, play in the fountains, and help themselves to a meal at our feeders. Sip on a cup of steamy orange herbal tea (decaffeinated, of course) and snack on some of my chocolate covered homegrown strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or ...
Welcome to my internet sparkhome. Kick off your shoes. Sit in the swing beside me for a while. (Or you can sit on the bench by the fountain next to my "buddy" - LOL.) Enjoy the beautiful fragrant flowers. Listen to the birds sing while they splash in the birdbath, play in the fountains, and help themselves to a meal at our feeders. Sip on a cup of steamy orange herbal tea (decaffeinated, of course) and snack on some of my chocolate covered homegrown strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries. Later on we can take a stroll through the woods and possibly encounter an owl or a deer with it's fawn(s). There is always something wonderful to discover on these walks. And it's even better to enjoy it with a friend.

Hi, I'm Morticia. I live in a cabin in the woods on 6 1/2 acres in a rural area of Southern Illinois, a mile from a small lake, 2 miles from another lake, and the same distance from a state scenic site. We have a large garden and grow a lot of our own fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, plus we raise catfish and bluegill in our pond. We are into self-sufficiency and do everything we can for ourselves - such as all of our own remodeling, repairs, and maintenance on our house, boat, 5 outbuildings, and 3 vehicles. It keeps us very busy and we work hard, but when it's time to relax we know how to do that as well.

We have a lot of hobbies that occupy our free time. Most of them are outdoors activities, like astronomy, mycology, pontooning, bird watching, landscaping, etc. We enjoy relaxing in our spa in our screen room while we listen to music from around the world.

I'm a retired R.N. who worked mainly in critical care, dialysis, and supervision, but I also put in some time in med/surg and rehab. I like to collect things, especially cookbooks. I'm a former moderator of almost 50 internet cooking groups.

My sole mate is a supervisor in a small manufacturing plant. He's very artistic, unlike me. He plays acoustic guitar and composes music. He's an avid photographer and amateur mycologist and entomologist. He does stained glass and wood carving, plus he makes bread, primitive stick furniture, kaleidoscopes, and fiberoptic decorations. My husband thinks canning is fun. LOL!

Our son who is a graduate of McKendree University which is located in the metroeast area near St. Louis. He has a bachelor of science in science education with an emphasis in biology but he can teach chemistry and physics as well. He is manager of a new sporting goods store which opened in 2013 in a town about 70 miles from here. He plays the keyboard and is into computers, video games, and movies. He enjoys reading and is writing a book. He has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and has also done Gumdo.

We have 4 chinchillas - Runtster, Blocker, Squeaker and Porkie. We had 5 others named Rico Suave, Bun, Wheeler, Baxter, and Stinker but they died. We also had two other males who died shortly after birth. Actually the chinchillas have us because they are in charge around here. LOL. Most people are curious as to what chinchillas are like. They are like people - each one has his/her own unique personality.

For those of you who have not heard it I will repeat the story of how I became obese. I was a skinny, hyperactive, child. I had severe colic, lactose intolerance, pituitary problems, hyperthyroidism, seborrhea, allergies, asthma, rheumatic fever, and almost all the childhood diseases that they vaccinate for now. I weighed 86 pounds in high school until I was in a bad car wreck and ended up with internal injures, broken bones, burns, and selective amnesia. It took me years to recover from the injuries. By the end of that period I reached a normal weight in the size 5-6, 7-8 range and stayed that way most of my life.

I started having medical problems when I was in my early 30's. I had suffered through a failed marriage and worked in a very stressful job. At 32 I developed hypertension and was put on a low fat, low cholesterol, low salt diet for years but my BP got worse and I ended up on 3 BP meds and still had poor control. I developed more health problems and found out I had rheumatoid arthritis at 38.

Between 1995 and 1999 almost all of my family members died including my mom, both grandmothers, my step-mom, step-grandma, all my aunts, and all my uncles but one. At 46 I became the oldest living female in my family. I ended up with my dad, half-brother, husband, son, and 2 female cousins who were a lot younger than me. I seemed to go into total shock and on the day my mother died I was immediately thrust into menopause. For some reason, my grief led to overeating for the first time in my life and I discovered fast food at age 46. I ballooned up and my MD added other problems to my ever growing list of medical problems - GERD, IBS, chronic bronchitis, Chronic CMV, Emphysema, High Cholesterol, High Triglycerides, Hypoglycemia, Reynaud's, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetic, pre-glaucoma, Menieres, etc. It seemed like every time I went to the doctor I had something else tacked on. And my dreadful lifestyle was effecting my son and husband as well who were becoming obese along with me. I could tell my doctor was becoming depressed about it and one day he told me that he hoped he could help me live 10 more years. The comment kind of jolted me awake and I made a half effort to scale back my bad habits but the diet was holding me back. I hated it and asked for another diet and he put me on an 1800 Calorie Diabetic diet. It was worse.

In September of 2006 I became extremely ill with pneumonia and MRSA. My M.D. was unavailable and I went to a new doctor. I was a total mess and in a wheelchair. My BP was 189/110 and poorly controlled on 3 meds. My pulmonary function said I had the lungs of an 84 year old. The new M.D. had to put me on antibiotics, breathing meds, and steroids. I had a huge stomach and abdomen and a bloated face. I barely recognized myself in the mirror. I was so sick that I had to come back to the MD twice a week for months. It took me 9 months to recover.

At the end of the illness I weighed 221 pounds and I had developed severe hypoglycemia but I was back among the living. This MD was different though. When I was sick he was kind and nurturing. Even after I improved he wasn't about lecturing or asking me to do enormous tasks I could never hope to achieve. He politely asked me if I could just try to lose 10% of my body weight. He gave me a choice of a vegetarian diet or his own High Protein, Low Carb, Moderate to High Fat diet and I chose the latter. He asked me to get a pedometer and work up to walking 10,000 steps a day. How could I possibly do that when I could not walk across the room without being breathless? How could I switch to a diet that was completely different than what I had been on in the past? It seemed impossible.

I had always hated exercise in the past but after my brush with death I finally decided to knuckle under. I started my walking program on my mother's birthday in July of 2007 by walking across the room. Every day I walked across the room more often and then I pushed further. The first time I got on the treadmill I made 20 minutes and thought I was going to die. I sat on the edge of the steps with sweat pouring off of me and my muscles quivering and hurting. I was dizzy, weak, depressed, and out of of breath and glumly told my son and hubby I could only do 20 minutes. I was ready to throw in the towel but their response surprised me. They both said, "WOW!! You made an entire 20 minutes!!!" I looked at their faces and realized how much I meant to them and made up my mind then and there that I would do this. I'm very stubborn and when I decide to do something nothing will stop me. Within a couple of weeks I made it to a minimum of 12,500+ steps a day and have managed that most day unless I am ill. My husband made me a walking path through our woods that is almost a mile long and I love it. On some days I have done 15,000 to 20,000 and more. The most steps I have done is a little over 27,000.

Walking and the new diet changed my life. I felt 20 years younger after only a few days on the new regimen. My severe hypoglycemic attacks stopped. Many of my medical conditions went into remission. Some were cured. I'm down to one BP pill a day with good control.

I didn't get really serious about my diet until May of 2008 when I joined Sparkpeople though. I explored the site and learned a lot from successful dieters. I made some fantastic friends. I learned to use the food and fitness trackers. Within a couple of months I finally chose to do a modified South Beach as my son liked it the most of the diets we considered and I could adapt it to stay on my M.D. prescribed diet. We bought the book and committed to doing it right. We weren't too fond of Phase 1 but we made it without cheating and he lost 13 pounds and I lost 10 during the first phase. We were hooked and he continued to lose steadily until he reached goal after losing 120 pounds. I have a long way to go to reach my goal but I know I can do it.

In no way has my journey been easy. I have tweaked my diet and exercise program for months on end and endured endless plateaus. I've cheated and been discouraged. I've had setbacks. I got pneumonia again in 2013 and had to go back on more meds. I've regained weight. I've pushed myself to my limits but I have never given up. I finally faced the facts and left my denial behind and tried what I knew would work for me and it does work. I have come a long way from being in a wheelchair.

If I can do it from where I started then I know you can do it too. I want you to live a long healthy life and be there for your family and friends. I hope you will join me in making your dreams a reality.

Thank you for coming to my site. Feel free to leave a comment or email me if you would like to. Tell me about you, your family, your home, and your weight loss challenges. I would love to hear from you. I always have room on my swing for another friend.

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Member Since: 5/4/2008

My Goals:
I have attained many of my past goals but I am always making new ones. I want to constantly be moving toward a healthier lifestyle. I want to learn something new every day that will benefit me or my family. I want to try a new recipe at least once a week.I want to reach my goal weight.

My Program:
I am walking at least 12,500 steps a day. I do yard work every day. I read lots of healthy articles. I try new foods. I cook most of my meals at home.

Other Information:
I read mostly nonfiction books and magazines, like gardening books or books on different science related subjects. I like Rock and Gem, Astronomy, Birds and Blooms and cooking magazines, especially healthy ones and Taste of Home and it's sister magazines. I have many favorite movies like North By Northwest, The Wizard of Oz, The Addams Family, Indiana Jones, Trading Places, Bladerunner, McClintock. etc.

Favorite Quotes:

Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do. - Isaac Asimov

I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Member Comments:
7/2/2015 12:19:35 PM

Sounds good to me!!

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7/2/2015 10:41:41 AM

the only thing I know how to teach a dog is to sit and the only reason they sit is to get that treat. and Buster still does not like the treadmill if I can get him to half way stay for more than a second I will get a picture and post it.

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7/2/2015 10:31:26 AM

There are 3 trees in the front and they are getting really nasty looking. Someone came to look at them ages ago and recommended that we remove them, but so far we haven't. That will cost a lot of money for us to do that since the trees are right beside power and phone lines, but better to have them cut down and taken out carefully than have them snap mid trunk and fall onto the power lines. Something to think about and make a plan to do.

I'm sure you'll think of something for the 4th. We like to keep things simple here so there was no big meal or dessert and no company over (thankfully! with the annual summer sale and BBQ last weekend we have had enough of entertaining for a while).

Sorry to hear about Squeaker.

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7/2/2015 9:15:08 AM

Thanks for the blog comment. My doctor told me and weight watchers is a good low carb program. But OMG!! Soooooo expensive!!! What low carb plan to you use?

Thanks and have a great day!! emoticon

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7/1/2015 7:03:24 PM

Wow!! A blog!! I had to look 3X. Couldn't believe my eyes. Can't wait to go there . . .

Wow how neat to find out you're a Carl S fan.

I have personally seen UFOs twice. They were certainly unidentified, and they were certainly flying.

They were not triangles (which are ours, secret black ops - or used to be secret, don't know if they still are, since everyone's seen them now).

One came up out of the water, flying, and flew off. Both were close enough to scare me silly, to be seen clearly, and to be able to tell the size relative to physical landmarks (they were huge).

It's my personal belief they are not ours and not theirs (not German, US, or Russian black ops).

Of course, since I haven't seen anyone's black ops personally, I could be wrong. But I still don't think so.

And when I was a kid I assembled some of my brother's Star Trek models (boy was he mad), and watched endless hours of Star Trek and Star Gate and the others. But those two sightings and growing up with and loving SciFi, is the extent of it for me.

As an adult it's a fascinating subject to listen to alternative radio about, and read about. And I know many, many pilots simply don't report sightings in order to keep their jobs.

Some ufologists assert black ops can do everything you see on Star Trek. A fascinating subject alright, but I'm not buying that whole hog, sight unseen. My momma was born in Missouri . . .

But there's definitely something there alright. It's kind of like an open secret now. Old news. No longer a revelation unless you've been living under a rock. But the govt is still afraid it will make us natives restless to acknowledge it openly, and destabilize society. (And with all of our present home-grown nutcases, I don't blame them.) And the media still blackballs anyone who speaks of it publicly, and blackballs ufologists in particular. Slanders the messenger as well as the message. As Bill Clinton said about the topic of UFOs, "That's a tar baby."

I do remember something about Jimmy Carter, now that you mention it. I don't remember the details or description of his sighting.

A careful reading of the Bible, especially Genesis, gives many clues, tho not much in the way of explanations. I believe in the 6-day creation, that was really was 6 days and not 6K yrs, but I also believe the earth is very very old with many pre-Adamic lost civilizations, cataclysms, and creations, and it is obvious to me the science is there that the earth is much much older than 6K. I do not agree with everything Bhuddists and the Hopi teach about this subject of pre-Adamic civilizations, but I believe there is a kernel of truth in their legends, which fits very nicely with Genesis. There are places in India with topography melted like glass - leftovers from a pre-Adamic nuclear war, many believe.

And Orion and other constellations are spoken about multiple times in the Bible, as well as the universe and galaxies.

And it says He has named every star. (Can you IMAGINE that?!!)

I believe Genesis is like a cliff notes version of the story of the earth. I believe what has gone on before really doesn't apply much to our present civilization (directly, tho it's the same earth, with a few carryovers) and doesn't apply much to our present assignments; so the full story's not included in The Book. We are warned about certain things that do apply, or might apply (carryovers). Other than that, we are to be about our Father's present-day business, for this civilization / this creation; and not about other pre-Adamic things. Now is not the time, for us who are sons and daughters of Adam. But I'm certain we'll learn alot, later.

Meanwhile it's all certainly fascinating, isn't it?

And I don't know why there wouldNOT be "life out there", since we already know God IS there.

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