WEST OF THE SOUTH BEACH, Florida (part 2 of 4)

Kathleen cooked all the recipes exactly by the diet book. If a recipe "serves 4," she'd divide it all among us. I complained that it was too much food. She said we HAD to eat it all; that the more we ate, the more we'd lose. I was miserable. I don't consume that much each meal. Friday, my stomach hurt all night. I was thinking about our supper: we each ate l/2 gallon of food! Half of it was the salad which filled a 6"x6"x3" bowl with 8 romaine leaves, red and green bell peppers, cucumbers and 5 golf ball size tomatoes. Pain continued in my stomach all day Saturday. At 6:00, I asked Cora to take me to a drug store. "I think I need some Fleet for an enema. It's been four days." The Fleet was on the very bottom shelf, an inch above the floor, in a single column. The space next to it was vacant beside a sign, "Sale, $l.49." I said, "Great! It's on sale. But I don't want this box in front. It's squashed on the top right edge, and looks like a returned item. I certainly don't want that! I reached behind it to pick up a perfect box."

At 9:30, I said to Cora, "I don't think the Fleet is working. I spilled most of it. Let's go back to the pharmacy." I bought another box of Fleet and suppositories. The clerk rang up $l.99 for the Fleet. I told him it was $l.49 on sale. He called the manager and I insisted I was overcharged 50 cents. The manager suggested I might have picked up the Walgreen's brand earlier. "No way! The Clerk rang up Fleet, $l.49." She gave me 50 cents.

At home again, I just couldn't believe my eyes. The empty "Fleet" box was a Walgreen brand on sale for $1.49! I hate companies that copycat! Both boxes are exactly alike in green and white colors with the same item sketched on front. If you read all four sides, you'll notice "Walgreen" in small letters at the top. I'll have to go back and return the 50 cents!

Sunday afternoon, Kathleen said the diet lists constipation as a possible side effect. She asked Cora to take her to Walgreens for a refill of Colace (laxative) tablets. Cora said, "I'll get a bottle for me and Elaine, too." I said, "I need to go along and return 50 cents to the manager. But I don't want to be with the two of you at the check-out counter. I can hear the thoughts of that clerk, "What's with these old ladies? Yesterday, they made two trips to buy two boxes of Fleet and suppositories. Today, they're buying three bottles of Colace! Could they be trying to kill a husband?" We laughed so hard we had to regain composure before entering the store.

I apologized to the manager and returned the 50 cents.

By Tuesday afternoon, I knew why I had tummy pains: Diverticulitis. Cora got out the medical book. The main cause of Diverticulitis is lack of fiber! Why doesn't everyone get it? The first two weeks, there is no fiber or fruit on the South Beach Diet menus. That evening, I returned to my home in Houston. The next morning, I called my doctor's office. The receptionist said there was no time for an appointment. I said, "I know I have Diverticulitis. I just need a prescription." She said, "You'll have to see the doctor. Come in at 11:45." The waiting room was full of patients. At 2:00, I was escorted to an examining room. At 3:00 Dr. Ware came in. Of course I was angry to sit three hours in pain waiting for a prescription. I did not complain. I was with the doctor now. The waiting was a while ago. This is NOW. Forget the "while ago."

I told Dr. Ware what was wrong. "It's been 5 years since I had Diverticulitis." He said, "I'm giving you a prescription. Take all the pills. If you are not well in 10 days, I'll put you in the hospital." He explained what would happen to me in there. I KNEW I'd be well!

I went to Kroger's drive-in pharmacy. I handed her my credit card. Prescriptions run from $50 to $100 nowadays. Since cars were behind me, I drove to the end of the alley before looking at my receipt: $6.25. I was in shock! When did a $6.25 prescription cure anything? Dr. Ware wants me in the hospital! I drove back to Katy. I stayed in bed until Friday afternoon. I gave orders: "Wake me only for Spades or dessert!" I am off the diet until I get well.

It was a very exciting game of Spades Friday afternoon. Elaine and Cora are the pros. Anytime Kathleen and I beat them, it's like winning the World Series. We didn't win -- but the final score was 516 to 502!

One afternoon, we got out a mailing list. I assembled the letters; applied address labels on envelopes. Cora folded and stuffed letters and enclosures in envelopes. Kathleen put on the stamps and return address. Elaine rolled the envelope flaps across the porcelain licker to seal.

Cora, Elaine and I signed a "thank you" card and mailed it to Robert. We wrote notes thanking him for "batching it" while Kathleen stayed with us. I don't know how to say it: Robert and Kathleen are very special, loving, caring, generous, just wonderful sister and brother-in-law.

Friday, September 9 was the last day of Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet. Breakfast was "Artichokes Benedict with Mock Hollandaise Sauce." Kathleen and Cora were each holding an artichoke and reading directions to prepare. "Wash the artichokes. Cut off stems at bases. Remove small bottom leaves. Stand upright in deep sauce pan with 3-inches of salted water. BOIL gently 45 minutes." Kathleen put them in the oven to BROIL gently 45 minutes. Cora corrected the procedure before any damage was done. The timer was set for 45 minutes.

"Spread leaves open like flower petals. With spoon, carefully remove center petals and the fuzzy center from the artichoke bottoms and discard!" Kathleen discards the bottom petals and keeps the fuzzy center! Cora discards the fuzzy center and keeps the bottom! After some discussion, they figure it out--especially since the artichoke is topped with a poached egg! Luckily they had just put a new plastic bag in the waste basket, making retrieval o.k. This is too much! The recipe "serves 2." Cora thought that meant serve 2 poached eggs each. She prepared 6 eggs for the 3 of them! The poached eggs were served on-the-side with the sauce!

Saturday, Sept. 10 was the beginning of Phase 2 of the diet and also, weigh-in day. Skinny sister Kathleen has lost 7 pounds; Elaine, 5; Cora 3 and I have lost 1. "Show me again in the book where it says 'the weight just falls off of you!'" After lunch, we had another happy Spades game. Kathleen and I won against Elaine and Cora, 539 to 403.

I am sitting at the dining-room table working on a mail-out. Cora and Kathleen are busy preparing supper. Elaine is in the den watching the Astros. Suddenly, there's a LOUD explosion!

By the kitchen door leading to the dining-room, there is a small cabinet, the top being just big enough to hold the Toaster Oven. Between it and the refrigerator is a convenient space to put a package of GE Daylight 40" Twinpack Fluorscent Lights. It exploded in the middle, leaving the two ends intact. All the fine slivers of glass scattered across the kitchen and into the dining room just three feet from my chair. Kathleen and Cora were working at the counter adjacent to the refrigerator. If they had been on the other side of the kitchen at the counter with the sink in the middle, they would have felt the full blast of all that glass. Thanks be to God! To Him be glory!

Sunday afternoon, Sept. 11, we had another TOUGH Spades game. Cora & Tillie, won with a score of 534 to Kathleen and Elaine's score of 515.

Monday, Sept. 12 has a mind-boggling recipe. Since I'm not on the diet, "Perfection Salad" recipe needs to be halved, because it serves 6. Kathleen tosses the book to Cora. We are resting around the breakfast table. The ingredients are:

1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin l/2 + 1-1/4 cups water (try halfing this!)

l/4 cup Equal sweetener 1/4 cup white vinegar

1/2 t. salt 3/4 c. finely shredded cabbage

l cup diced celery 1 pimento, chopped

Cora is figuring: 5/4 divided by 2 = 10/8 l/2 of 3/4 = 3/8 1/2 of 4/3=4/6=2/3 6/8

Cora says: "We have a problem!" Kathleen replies, "Don't give me a problem--just write the numbers beside each item for the amount halved."

Cora: You have to make it WHOLE and throw away what you don't need!

Tillie: Do you know anyone else on the diet that could use the other half?

Jesus said, "Learn of Me" (Matthew 11:29). How? By reading the Bible daily. Are you closer to Him today than a year ago? Trust Him. Live by faith. Talk to Jesus everyday in prayer.

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