Sunday, November 29, 2009

I went to a garlic party ...

... to reminisce with some old friends ... and of course gorge on garlic!

The party concept is quite simple: Everyone brings a garlic-loaded dish, and a bottle of wine or other beverage, to share with like-minded garlicophiles. After we converse and fill our bellies, the music is cranked up and we hit the dance floor. It's a wonderful night, something I greatly look forward to every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

This party has become somewhat of a local legend during its 30 years of existence; it has even been featured in local newspaper stories. It attracts somewhere between 60 and 140 guests, depending on the year, the weather, etc. I went to my first one in 1988, when I was a student in a master's-level class taught by the host, and I've been going pretty much ever since, missing only about three or four in the past 21 years.

Alas, the 30th annual Garlic Party was the last one. The hosts are, understandably, tired ... of all the set-up and break-down labor ... of being committed for the weekend before Thanksgiving each and every year ... of being tied down to Boca Raton (they're retired and plan on doing some extensive traveling) .

Luckily, my good friend Cori, who happens to live just a few doors away from the hosts, has volunteered to carry on the tradition, and maybe even morph it a bit into a newer version. It will be different, for sure. But the date will be the same. And it's already penciled in on my 2010 calendar.

Long live the Garlic Party!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Latest mammography recommendation puts me in a quandary

Recent studies on mammograms have been questioning their efficacy and necessity, so it's not much of a surprise to see the latest recommendation by a governmental task force that most women should only get screened every two years starting at age 50.

Already, there is much controversy about this report, along with suspicion that it's just a secret plot to hold down health-care costs at the expense of middle-aged and senior women. But there is also much evidence that says irradiating women regularly, and prescribing treatment for even the slightest signs of irregularity, are much more harmful to women overall.

I fall more into the second camp -- the one that favors fewer mammos, rather than more frequent ones. However, I dutifully followed the recommendations, and have been getting yearly or biannual screenings from the age of 40, even though there's no breast-cancer history in my family.

And then recently, there were signs of calcification in my right breast that warranted more detailed follow-up, which caused three rounds of X-rays in the past year (last November, this January and July) -- which I've blogged about here and here and here. I'm supposed to be going back again this month (November.)

And that puts me in a serious quandary. My doctors are just doing their job by being cautious. But I really hate the whole process, and the fact that I, like so many other women, am being needlessly put though this process of alarm-and-worry-and-wait-and-see.

Frankly, it sucks.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An enlightening night of yoga and camaraderie

So, for my gig as the West Palm Beach Health and Happiness Examiner, I got hold of a screener copy of a new documentary called Enlighten Up! A Skeptic's Journey into the World of Yoga, which comes out today (Nov. 10) on DVD. I planned to, and did, review the film for the Examiner site.

A week or so ago, I mentioned the screener during a yoga class, inquiring whether anyone might want to join me when I viewed it. And before I knew it, my suggestion had morphed into a special night of yoga at my fitness studio, Get Fit! in Boynton Beach.

Last night (Nov. 9), we started with a one-hour yoga class taught by renowned yoga teacher Ken Schwartz, then enjoyed a delicious potluck dinner, followed by the screening. About 16 people showed up for one or more of these activities; I think Get Fit! owner Christine King was thrilled by the turnout -- and by the enthusiastic response to the film, which most of us gave about 4 (out of 5) stars to.

Not only is Enlighten Up! entertaining, amusing and insightful, but it also provides the perfect opportunity to organize a similar get-together for yourself! You can read my review here.

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