Robert T. Rhode

Robert T. Rhode
Robert T. Rhode

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Eating Popcorn to Lose Weight (Last Installment in This Series)

A great way to lose weight is to eat popcorn—provided that relatively little butter is used. I count calories whenever I want to return to my ideal weight, and I am thankful that I can eat fairly large quantities of popcorn and not rapidly increase my calorie count. I always popped my corn in a copper-bottomed saucepan with a lid until the day when friends gave me a popper with a crank that can be turned to spin the corn. I used that popper so much that I wore it out!

My Back to Basics Brand Popcorn Popper

I went online to purchase another one, and I found that there are heavier poppers. I bought the Back to Basics stainless steel, stove-top popper, and I am delighted with it.

Here’s how it works.

I slice a patty from a stick of salt-free butter. The thickness of the patty is about a quarter of an inch. I toss the patty in the bottom of the popper. Next, I add a half cup of popcorn. I close the lid, turn the burner on high, and begin to crank, keeping a steady pace, not too fast, not too slow. After less than two hundred spins, the popcorn pops, and, when the popping slows down, I take the popper off the burner and pour the fluffy corn into a big bowl. I immediately salt the corn. As I am concerned about consuming too much salt, I use only enough salt to give me the salty taste without dumping salt on my corn. For some people, my popcorn probably would not be salty enough, but I am accustomed to it and find the saltiness just right.

My popper does a much better job of popping the corn than I could do with a saucepan.

Once in a while, I splurge and add a tablespoon of bacon fat along with the patty of butter. Bacon fat? Why, yes! A clerk at the local supermarket suggested that I try bacon fat when popping corn, and I thank her for the idea. A tablespoon is just enough to give the popcorn an indescribable richness without tasting too much like bacon. It is the popcorn taste that I am after, after all—not bacon flavor!

The websites that dictate how many calories are in a popper full of popcorn may be in error, or it may be that they do are not following my method of using only a small amount of butter to cook my corn. I am convinced that their calorie counts are far too high. In my experience, eating popcorn is almost like eating a food that does not contribute to weight gain. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Filtering Water to Eliminate Chlorine and Fluoride

While helping a friend cope with kidney disease, I was alarmed to discover that the chlorine and fluoride in city water are thought to contribute to kidney problems. I searched for ways to avoid drinking the water from my tap. Installing a reverse osmosis system would have been expensive, and I felt I could not afford to have water delivered by a subscription service. Drinking only bottled water was not an option for me because I did not want to contribute plastic bottles to landfills.

My Berkey Water Filter
Removing Chlorine, Fluoride, and Impurities

Then I discovered a viable solution: a Berkey filtering system. I purchased a Big Berkey, which holds plenty of filtered water for a day. The water passes through the filters attached to the floor of the upper chamber and continues through the second set of filters attached to the ceiling of the lower chamber. After such extensive filtering, the water is nearly free of chlorine, and the fluoride has been greatly reduced. Once a month, I clean the two chambers—a process as simple as cleaning two pots by hand in my kitchen sink.

And the difference in the water is incredible!

While I fill a pitcher with water to pour into my Big Berkey, I now smell the strong odor of chlorine (essentially bleach) in the water from my kitchen tap. I never noticed the smell before. The water that comes from the spigot in the lower chamber of my filtering system has no offensive chlorine smell.

The taste of the water from my Big Berkey is fresh and pure! Coffee made from the filtered water is noticeably better!

I can take my Big Berkey with me when I travel by automobile. There is nothing to plug in. All I have to do is fill the upper chamber with water and wait for it to filter into the lower chamber.

I cook with the water from my Big Berkey. I fill my dogs’ water bowl with water from my Big Berkey, and my houseplants receive the same water.

I became concerned about taking baths in city water, so I bought a small Berkey filter to replace the shower head that fills my tub. I found it easy to install the filter, which simply screws onto a pipe. While the filter does not remove the fluoride, it does eliminate most of the chlorine. I have shortened the time I spend in the tub so as to ensure that I am not absorbing too much fluoride.

I have sensitivity to chlorine, which will cause my skin—particularly on my face or fingers—to become irritated. With the Berkey filter that fills my tub, I no longer experience rashes from chlorine.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

My Cat Fence

I had a mischievous cat named Ramesses. He featured in an earlier blog of mine. I said that I should have known he was going to be a bad cat. When my vet asked me if I wanted a kitten, I said no, but the vet had other ideas. He brought me a cardboard box with a reddish orange kitten in the bottom. As the kitten stumbled around the box, I knew I could not refuse. So Ramesses came home with me. He played and played, never growing tired. Eventually, I had to get some sleep before going to work. The day dawned, and I called for Ramesses. He didn’t come. Wondering where he was, I took the garbage bag from the kitchen, dumped it in the can outside, and hauled the can to the street for the garbage man. When the garbage truck came down the street, I thought, “He crawled inside the garbage bag!” The garbage man assumed his gentlest manner and said that a kitten could not have survived the crushing motion of the truck’s mechanism. I felt horrible. As I stepped into the bedroom to make sure I had turned off the light, I thought I saw something. It was between the nightstand and the wall and was sticking out from under the nightstand. It was the tip of a tiny orange tail. When I jerked away the nightstand, there he was, sound asleep! I was overjoyed … and mad! I picked him up, and he purred.

Right then and there, I should have known he was going to be a bad cat. One of Ramesses’ favorite games was smash. Around two or three in the morning, a crash somewhere on the first floor of my house would knock me awake, and I would sit bolt upright in bed with every nerve straining to hear the burglar’s footsteps. Then I would find that I had left a drinking glass on the kitchen counter and that Ramesses had knocked it off, smashing it across the tile floor. I soon learned to store all glass items behind cabinet doors, but, every now and then, I would forget a glass or a bowl. That night, Ramesses would play smash again. But you had to love him! Whenever I took a bath, he begged to be lifted up and dropped into the water, where he swam gleefully. I trained him to walk on a leash, and he and I took many trips to a nature center where we hit the trails. He especially liked the pier beside the goldfish pond.

Later in Ramesses’ life, I had moved to the country, and I had a fenced yard just the right size for a cat. Ramesses spent hours of unsupervised play time in the grass surrounded by the wire fence. One day, I peered through a window at the right moment to see him scaling the fence. One paw after the other, he slowly made his way to the top. Then he gleefully sprang to total freedom beyond the enclosure. Naturally, I dashed outside, scooped him up, and returned him to the house.

Now what? I wanted him to continue to enjoy the outdoors, but he could not be trusted to remain within the fence. Suddenly, a solution came to mind.

I visited the hardware store and purchased several large angle brackets, a handful of bolts, and a roll of fence wire. Back home, I cut the new fence wire to half its height. Next, I bolted the angle brackets to the tops of the metal fence posts. Finally, I wired the half-length fence to the angle brackets.

My Inexpensive Idea for a Cat Fence

I coaxed Ramesses into the yard, and I returned to the house to watch through the window. He went to the corner where he liked to scale the fence, and, like a slow-motion acrobat, he gradually made his way to the top. There, he found more wire fence bending over his head! As he could not hang upside-down from it so as to go up and over it, he was stuck.

The Cat Fence in Winter

For a minute, I felt sorry for Ramesses. He had gone to such trouble to learn to scale a fence and now he was trapped. When I remembered the smashed tumblers, the shredded wallpaper, and the many other insurrections that he had caused, I soon recovered from feeling too sympathetic.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Electronic Door for My Dogs

I give High Tech Pet Products the highest recommendation for the company’s electronic door! In the past, I had to arrange my life around being home to open a door to let my dogs scamper into the fenced yard where they could do their business, as the euphemism goes. In 2012, I stumbled upon the High Tech Pet Products door, and I decided to try it.

As I have small dogs, I bought the smaller door, which no human intruder can squeeze through. Apparently, the installation was relatively easy for the construction professional on whom I rely.

High Tech Pet Products Door for My dogs

Online reviews said to replace the collars that the company provides, and I quickly discovered that the reviewers were giving good advice. I purchased leather collars, drilled holes through them for heavy string, and tied the electronic signal boxes to the collars. You see, each dog wears a small, black, plastic box on the collar. The box sends a signal to the door. When the dog approaches the door, it magically opens, and it closes again behind the dog.

It took less than a day to train my dogs to walk up to the pet door whenever they wanted to go outside.

I belatedly elected to purchase the battery plan, which automatically bills me for replacement batteries for the dog collars. I just received a set of batteries in the mail today, prompting me to write this blog.

The door has a large battery for back-up. So if lightning strikes and the lights go out, the pet door keeps working.

Only once have I been away all night, but I have enough confidence in the door to believe that I could take additional overnight trips if I chose to do so. I will not be gone longer than one night at a time because I want to ensure that my dogs have plenty of water and food. I worry that, if I were gone longer, a dog might accidentally overturn the water bowls in my absence.

At first, I was concerned that the opening of the door in winter might cool my house, but that was a foolish worry. The opening is small, and the dogs have not abused the privilege of going and coming as they wish.

On two occasions, I have had to replace the cable system hidden within the door. The first time, I hired a trusted HVAC guy to install the cable. The second time, a friend with a background in electrical wiring volunteered to make the installation.

Only once has one of the small boxes fallen from a collar, and I found it in the fenced yard. The newer boxes are more water resistant than my original ones were. I have had to replace the boxes once in the past four years.

If you have dogs (or cats) and have not tried an electronic pet door, you will be surprised at how relieved you will feel when you no longer have to open and close doors for your pets!

I have a Chihuahua that I recently acquired after someone else had trained her, and she prefers that I take her on a leash into the big yard that is not fenced. (She is soooo spoiled!) I am not entirely off the hook because of her, but, often enough, she chooses to hop through the electronic door to visit the fenced yard. I am sure I could be gone all night and she would avail herself of the electronic door.

Kudos to High Tech Pet Products!